Khan Academy: If You Don’t Like It, You Don’t Get It

(ATTENTION SALMAN KHAN SYCOPHANTS: PLEASE READ MY LATEST POST ON THE KHAN ACADEMY “60 MINUTES WORSHIPS SALMAN KHAN AND SO DO YOU“. IT IS EVEN MORE WORTHY OF YOUR VITRIOL.”

This comment was left by someone in response to my post Putting It All On The Table About The Khan Academy. I was saving it because I think it’s a good discussion piece:

Peter Berger

You say “What innovation does Sal Khan offer in American education besides a pause button?” and, disturbingly, you say that as if it’s a small thing. This shows that you’re missing the point. A pause button is a huge leap in pedagogy. A pause button is world-changing.

First, a pause button is an enabler. It gives the student a degree of agency that they simply don’t have in a brick and mortar classroom. Yes, a student CAN interrupt a class and say “Excuse me, Mr. Smith, but I still don’t understand why x raised a negative exponent is the same as 1/x to some positive exponent.” He can do that once a class. Or twice a class. But at some point – and students learn this very quickly – their doing this interrupts the class, interrupts the lesson, and interferes with the other students. The teacher who, quite understandable, has to strike a balance, has to decide between this one student and the rest of the class.

I want a teacher who I can pause. Just for me. I want a teacher who I can rewind. Just for me. I want a teacher who I can ask to repeat a lesson SIXTY TIMES without feeling embarrassed or stupid. THAT is what Khan Academy is offering students. And THAT is all because of the pause button. The pause button is gigantic, humongous, and hugely important, and if you don’t see that it’s because you’re looking in the wrong direction.

The second thing is that the pause button is a user interface enhancement that makes the lesson itself more enjoyable. This leads directly to people wanting to take the lessons, instead of viewing them as annoying. Ask yourself how many times you would use your DVD player, after perhaps bring it once, if it had no pause button. The answer is self-evident: zero.

Lastly, you’re completely ignoring the exercise components of Khan Academy, so that you can focus on the videos. In my experience, young students find the following attributes of the exercise components extremely beguiling: immediate feedback as to whether they are right or wrong, non-judgmental feedback (as in, they don’t feel embarrassed to make mistakes, but rather are motivated to figure out how to do it better), and completely unbounded amounts of practice. KA is always willing to throw more problems at you, for as long as you want to do them.

Does all of this mean that we should throw away brick and mortar schools, or throw away teachers? Of course not. As someone interested in pedagogy, what I want is to improve all schools, and all teachers. You say it’s “difficult to find people willing to say one negative thing about Khan”. To the contrary, the internet is full of articles from defensive teachers who feel threatened by the publicity KA has received. Your criticisms are par for the course. Unfortunately, I think you will find that it is impossible to construct an accurate criticism of a topic until you understand it. You may understand pedagogy, but you clearly don’t understand what it is that KA has brought to the table. Instead of lashing out defensively, perhaps you ought to try harder to understand what it is that KA is doing right, rather than just assuming that it must be doing everything wrong.

Perhaps — just perhaps — you’d learn something. It’s never too late to learn.

I am not going to speak on the tone in which Mr. Berger writes. Instead, I’d rather let you draw your own conclusions about that.

The fact that people believe a pause button is an educational innovation says a lot about how they see teaching. Sure, you can pause and rewind a video however many times you want. What do you get? The same thing over and over, repeated in the same way.

I know that when students ask me to clarify something, I present the information in a different way than I did originally. That is part of thinking on your feet as a teacher. Every question and comment that a student shares is indirectly a commentary on the lesson. It shows me which information or skills are getting across and which are not, which then informs the manner in which I deliver the rest of the lesson.

There is a reflexive loop between teacher and student, each one guiding the other on what they require. There is no such thing in the Khan Academy. It is a process that requires two human beings.

I can understand students being afraid to ask questions. Teachers have to make students comfortable with asking questions. There are days when my lessons consist of nothing but students asking questions totally unsolicited by me. Through these questions, we are able to cover the content.

Guess what? A kid cannot ask the Khan Academy any questions.

And for students who really need the extra time, to the point where they need to ask a question sixty times in a row, maybe a video would be handy if the information was low-level. But if a student has to ask sixty different questions sixty different times, then they’re going to need individualized attention. I don’t know many teachers who wouldn’t be willing to provide this type of attention during an off-period or after school. I don’t know many schools that do not have tutoring programs for these types of students. In the most severe cases, I don’t know of any school besides charters that do not have special needs programs.

One thing is for certain: for students with these types of issues, the Khan Academy is pretty far down on the list of tools they might require.

I’ve never spoken on Khan Academy’s activities because I believe them to be so self-evidently flawed that I didn’t think I needed to waste the typing finger energy on them. First, they tell the student whether they are right or wrong. This might come as a surprise, but most answers students give in a real classroom are neither right nor wrong. If you as a teacher are giving assignments that elicit thought and provoke discussion, you are encouraging children to construct their own version of truth. On the other hand, if all you’re worried about is if children follow a predetermined script, then you are shutting the thought process down. This is one of the reasons why the Khan Academy has been criticized by its few detractors as promoting nothing more than simplistic, procedural factoids.

“If you know this, you can go on to this.” That is why there is such an obsession with getting kids to earn virtual badges. It reflects the obsession education reformers have with rote, the type of thing that lends itself nicely to bubble-in exams.

Learning is not about levels and factoids. It is a process that integrates factual and conceptual information and entails emotional and moral growth. Again, a good teacher knows how to integrate these things into a lesson. This type of learning is non-existent in Khan Academy world.

And when people claim that the Khan Academy does not aim to replace real teachers, they are ignoring the hype around Khan and falling in love with Salman’s assurances. The fact of the matter is Khan, as well as a slew of online learning programs, have already begun the process. Students who need credits are taking more and more online classes. Universities are offering more and more online degrees. Obama’s proposed plan to reform public universities called for slashing budgets for professors and offering more online courses.

Khan may not say he wants to replace teachers. The President, Bill Gates and those with power have clearly stated otherwise.

It is only in education where the opinions of professionals count for nothing. When someone comes with a billion dollar program to save schools, like the Khan Academy, and it rightly gets ravaged by teachers, the knee-jerk response is “you’re just afraid of losing your job.” This has become a justification to ignore the concerns of educators and go ahead with schemes conceived in the minds of businessmen, politicians and computer programmers.

Believe it or not, educators are motivated by more than self-interest. The Khan Academy deserves criticism because it is nothing new. It brings no new methods to the pedagogical table. Their videos consist of lectures, diagrams and activities that have the feel of games. While the people who push Khan’s videos usually come from outside of the education world, educators who have been teaching children for years recognize Khan for what it is: lectures on tape with a bunch of bells and whistles. None of those lectures or bells does anything any differently from a real teacher. In many cases, it does it worse than an average teacher.

So when educators ravage Khan, it comes from a place not just of self-interest, but the interests of our children. We don’t want our kids to be sat in front of a screen and told it is education. While Bill Gates and all the other reformers continue to send their children to elite private schools with old teachers and small classes, everyone else’s children gets Khan’s videos. Instead of an education that nourishes all parts of the mind and spirit, Khan offers low level knowledge.

And the final reason why educators might dislike Khan is that the people who push it show such disdain for educators and what they do. Khan himself does not have one educator on his team, preferring to use people from the computer programming world instead. The people who support Khan, like the post above shows, thinks teaching children is about drilling facts into heads. It is like they imagine Ben Stein from Ferris Bueller every time they think of teachers.

Just because someone is not impressed with the Khan Academy does not mean they do not understand it. The emperor simply has no clothes.

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27 responses to “Khan Academy: If You Don’t Like It, You Don’t Get It

  1. Boy, criticize them for the simplistic, techno-driven, budget-cutting, profit-making, middle-class-destroying entity they are and you incur…

    The Wrath of Khan.

  2. Well said. The idea that if we just ‘flip’ the classroom everything will get better – makes an assumption that all students are highly motivated and focused. The idea that a student would hit the pause button numerous times is also an idea based on misconception and ignorance. While I don’t agree with you on some of what you regularly write about. I do find that we share some common ground around the idea that the edu-business folks are in the process of privatizing education. By taking cream off the top and saying, ‘Aren’t we awesome” they are perpetuating a myth. And, like you, I am frustrated that no one seems to bother to really look into the truth about what is going on with all of this.

    • Maybe whatever differences we have comes from the different roles we play in the education system? I am glad that there are high level administrators like you who see things for what they are. There are some who gladly shill for corporate interests and win all types of awards and accolades in the hopes of moving into the education policy business, where the big bucks are. Thank you for not selling your soul.

      • Touche – The Spa Experts August 21, 2011 at 12:30 pm | We are continuosly lokiong to add more skill set to the existing staff and involve new professionals with vibrant ideas and prospective about skin care and beauty industry. Florida academy is doing a great job. I would like to interact with some of the students and try to learn , how they see this is a rewarding career

  3. You made that up. There isn’t any on Earth who could be dumb enough to think that there is more agency in a pause button than there is in a classroom.
    No way. You HAD to make that up!! Seriously, it’s a parody of some ed reformer, right?
    Seriously!

    • I wish I would make that up. You should see some of the comments on here in defense of the Khan Academy. I have never seen such abject stupidity. There was a high school student who posted his/her reasonable thoughts on the KA and put all of the supposed adults to shame. I think I might make a separate post that compiles all of the stupid Khan Academy comments that have been left on this site. It boggles the mind.

  4. There are myriad issues with Khan Academy. One of my biggest gripes is that it is one size fits few: http://photomatt7.wordpress.com/2011/12/10/sal-khan-never-taught-special-ed-or-ells/

  5. Thanks for calling out my comment. I’m happy that you want to continue the conversation.

    Unfortunately, I still don’t quite understand where your defensiveness comes from, and I think you’re still making arguments that don’t make sense. In part, I think this is because you’re not arguing with me – you’re arguing with someone who I can’t see. I’m sure that argument is very important to you, but it’s not really terribly interesting from anyone not playing inside baseball.

    The crux of your continued misunderstanding, I think, is encapsulated in your phrase, dramatically given its own paragraph:

    “Guess what? A kid cannot ask the Khan Academy any questions.”

    This is true! It’s so important that it’s worth mentioning some other things that kids can’t ask questions of:

    A kid cannot ask a book any questions.

    A kid cannot ask a chalkboard any question.

    A kid cannot ask a pencil any questions.

    A kid cannot ask a bicycle any questions.

    A kid cannot ask a piece of chopped liver any questions

    A kid using Khan Academy does, of course, ask questions, just like kids using books, chalkboards, and pencils ask questions. The people they ask questions of include other kids, parents, and — of course — their teachers.

    The point here is that I, and at least some of your other commenters, have tried to make the point repeatedly that Khan Academy is a tool, and it’s a tool that we have seen that it is possible to use to some good effect. Your response is to continue the strawman conversation with the invisible people in your head who are telling you that teachers all suck and Khan Academy robots should be installed to replace you.

    The school districts where Khan Academy is treated as another tool in the toolbox, such as Los Altos, seem to be having some success with it; the teachers there would tell you that the main effect is that it allows them to concentrate their time on those students who are struggling while allowing those who are not to proceed at their own pace. I would love to see you having a real conversation with those teachers, instead of arguing with the Invisible Space Robot Administrators From The Planet 10, who apparently aren’t actually here to present their evil plans for teacher brain-eating. Maybe the administrators in your district ARE actually planning to replace you with the evil robots; if that’s the case, you have my sympathies. But please don’t misrepresent my words as being a part of that narrative. It’s kind of annoying.

    Kind regards,

    peterb

    • Right.

      Yes, Khan Academy can be a tool, much like standardized exams can be a tool. As I said, and what you conveniently did not address, that it is a tool that supports only the lowest level, most rote type of learning. Furthermore, it does nothing for English Language Learners and students with real learning disabilities. It is an extremely limited tool.

      The fact that you chalk up my critiques of the Khan Academy, as well as the critiques of other educators, as mere “defensive” paranoia is extremely naive on your part. This extremely limited tool is being pushed as an educational solution. Online learning (euphemistically referred to as distance learning) is the single fastest growing part of the education sector. It is already being used in many states to provide credit recovery programs where the only teachers students have is the computer. In other states, it is starting to be used as a replacement for required, core classes.This is not a “tool”, this is a wholesale replacement of teachers.

      As I have stated elsewhere, if Khan was some guy in his basement who put up educational videos on youtube, it would be a great tool for extremely low-level learning for a very limited sector of the student population (i.e. students motivated and wise enough to know when they need help and where to go to find it.) The fact of the matter is, that is not how it is being used. It is also not how Khan bills it himself. After an influx of millions of Gates Foundation dollars, the Khan Academy’s stated purpose is to provide a quality education to every child, everywhere.

      I suppose you haven’t been paying attention to education for the past 10 years. The entire drive to destroy teacher tenure, open up charter schools, test kids to death and bring in TFA alumni is part of a wider assault on the entire teaching profession. It is an attempt to turn teaching into a deskilled, revolving door job. Gates has been the single greatest driving force behind this. Online learning is the culmination of this movement, the ed reformer’s wet dream, and Khan is on the cutting edge of it.

      Despite the fact that I painfully illustrated how limited a tool Khan Academy is, you completely ignore it to reassert your “it’s just a tool” bromide.

      It should be just a tool. Yet, there are millions of dollars behind this very limited, very flawed tool. The reality, that thing that I have been discussing all this time and that you continue to tune out, is that it is not a tool. The reality is that it is being hyped, including by Khan himself, as a paradigm shift, an innovation in education.

      Your only assertion is that it is a tool. That is a very thick phrase. As an educator, an award-winning teacher, someone who makes education his life’s work, I am telling you that this “tool” is extremely limited in its usefulness. The hype surrounding it, the millions being poured into it, is out of proportion to its usefulness as an education “tool”.

      You can disregard the criticisms of educators as mere defensive paranoia all you want. Instead of arrogantly writing them off, perhaps you should actually listen and pay attention to what has been the reality behind education reform over the past 10 years. You want to have a fantasy discussion about Khan being just a tool. I have addressed its usefulness as a tool, and then explained the reality of its function in the education world.

      • You keep using this word “arrogant.” I do not think it means what you think it means. Personally, I think someone who complains that his screwdriver is not a hammer is arrogant. But de gustibus non set disputandum.

        I’ll leave you with this one suggestion: instead of trying to convince people that Khan Academy is a conspiracy between Bill Gates and the Space Aliens to destroy teacher tenure, perhaps you should engage directly with those teachers who are finding this tool useful.

        You keep trying to set this up as Bill Gates vs. Teachers. And hey, maybe you’re right and Gates really does want to steal all your ice cream cones or something. But that’s a false dichotomy. You want to ask me, as a layman to “listen and pay attention” to you as an “award-winning teacher” to your opinion of Khan Academy. OK, great. I’m listening. The question I’d really like you to answer is: should I ignore and not pay attention to the award-winning teachers who think it’s a good tool?

        In other words, I believe you when you say you have criticisms about KA and that those criticisms are worth listening to. I’ll be the first person in line to say that you know more about education than me. However, I simply don’t believe that you are representative of the set of all “award-winning teachers”, and I don’t believe your opinion deserves any special weight above the opinion of educators who — heavens to mergatroid! – disagree with you. There are educators who are using the hammer for its intended purpose and think that it has a place, that it helps (some!) students, and that they are not destroying educational pedagogy by doing so.

        But, based on your replies to me, maybe you think those teachers have all been bribed by Bill Gates and the Space Aliens or something as part of their nefarious plot to destroy tenure and pollute our precious bodily fluids.

        My first comment on your blog was motivated, in part, by your stunningly incorrect claim that Khan Academy has been universally praised and that it is “difficult to find people willing to say one negative thing about Khan”. (If you require me to go paste the first hundred or so articles critical of Khan that have appeared throughout the internet, including in the Chronicle of Higher Education, I’ll do it, but I hope it won’t come to that). After that opening shot, which you placed squarely into your own foot, my overall impression is that your research on this topic (where “this topic” means “the use of Khan Academy in schools,” not pedagogy in general) is slipshod at best to practically nonexistent at worst.

        It is clear that I’m not the person who is going to convince you. That’s OK with me. I suggest that maybe you need to engage with educators whose opinion differs from yours. They may not change your mind. But at least they’ll make your criticisms better. And believe me – I don’t find your criticisms persuasive, and I suspect that most people without a dog in the hunt would agree with my characterization of your position as “defensive.”

      • Arrogant is this statement:

        “instead of trying to convince people that Khan Academy is a conspiracy between Bill Gates and the Space Aliens to destroy teacher tenure, perhaps you should engage directly with those teachers who are finding this tool useful.”

        You might not buy into the idea that the wealthiest man in the world is less-than-altruistic when he says he wants to improve education and that is fine. If that is the case, then maybe you should provide grounds for why you disagree. Dismissing it as a mere conspiracy and making back-handed statements about “space aliens” is not actually a substitute for a counter-argument.

        You are working from this assumption that the actual purpose of the Khan Academy is merely a tool of educators, nothing more. The fact is, it has already begun replacing teachers, as I have already stated and that you did not acknowledge at all. Even Khan himself does not posit this. (Khan Academy’s goal = to provide a quality education to anyone, anywhere.) Sure, an educational tool is one of its functions. It is not its only function and it does even play that role in the education system. Again, what have you done to refute this idea, aside from restate some nebulous notion of what you believe the actual purpose of what the Khan Academy is.

        Even if Khan himself says it is a tool (which he does say, among many other things), does this make it so? There is a difference between what people say, especially people of power and wealth, and what they do. Bill Gates certainly does not think it is a “tool”. He has done more than anyone to represent KA as a paradigm shift in education.

        Just because George Bush said that the War in Iraq was about Weapons of Mass Destruction, did this make it so? But, what about all of those Americans who went to Iraq and searched for WMD, doesn’t that prove that the war was actually about WMD? Just because Obama says he is going to bring “hope” and change”, does this actually mean that is the case?

        In the same way, does the fact that teachers use the KA prove that it is a tool or can be a tool prove that the KA is strictly a tool? All that proves is that it can be used as a tool, a point that I have conceded over and over again, with the caution that it is a limited tool. It does not mean it has been marketed, implemented and visualized that way. There is more to the Khan Academy than what you try to paint it as, despite your attempts to arrogantly assert (not argue), otherwise.

        You act like the internet is awash with Khan Academy critics. Do a Google search and what you find is a deluge of huzzas for the Khan Academy. The balance of opinions on the internet, the overwhelming balance of opinions, are in favor of Khan, even enthusiastic about Khan. There are critics out there, many articulate critics, but they are mostly people like me, throwing spitballs from faraway spaces. The big traffic sites, the ones that can be bankrolled by Gates, are overwhelmingly enthusiastic. Public opinion, is overwhelmingly on the side of the Khan Academy. The only major criticism from any visible, well-traveled internet space comes from Mathalicious, which is Bush League in comparison with the giant websites like TED, Huffington Post, etc.

        You act as if I haven’t made an effort to understand Khan’s value as an education tool. I have went through pains to show what I believe its value to be. I have read testimonials from people who have used the Khan Academy with what they consider success. I have watched more Khan videos than I care to remember. And it all corroborates its simplistic, procedural, scripted method of instruction. They are lectures with graphics and video-gamey activities. Does this represent a paradigm shift in education? No, not in my mind.

        And the paradigm shift idea comes from Khan, Gates and the KA’s biggest supporters. It is not marketed as a tool, not used as a tool, not visualized as a tool by anyone on the policy side. The only one I see claiming that its purpose is as a tool is you.

    • Michael Paul Goldenberg

      Fundamental difference between a KA video and a lesson from even a marginally competent mathematics teacher: Khan doesn’t prepare. He doesn’t anticipate what might arise from the math given a knowledge of students (any students but himself). He doesn’t read about math teaching, math education research, or anything of the kind and is smugly proud of it, as are many of his silly defenders (not all his defenders are silly, nasty, or off-point, but the vast majority are). A half-way decent teacher prepares, brings to bear past experience teaching the topic, tries to connect it to other mathematics, accounts for student misconceptions, anticipates difficulties, and adapts the lesson to what’s going on as s/he’s teaching it based on feedback of all sorts that Khan NEVER gets while he sits hearing himself talk to a camera.

      Other than that, Khan is wonderful. You should continue to tell the world how great he is, learn only or primarily from him, and watch the math students who actually STUDY mathematics leave you in the dust.

      Yes, we need more highly-skilled math teachers (and other flavors of teacher). But Khan Academy isn’t revolutionizing learning of anything, and 20 years from now, he’ll be a forgotten footnote. Whether we’ll have finally gotten over the hump in this country when it comes to getting math taught in ways that can reach a significant majority of students remains an open question, but if we do, it won’t be from people imitating Khan or using his lame lectures in or out of class. If all you hope for with your students is the ability to follow a few steps in a recipe for calculating, get them a cookbook and a computer with easy-to-use math software and teach them to use another free product from the Internet: Wolfram Alpha.

  6. Peter Berger – your seriously arguing with a guy who names his blog, “the assailed teacher”? He clearly sees himself as a helpless victim who has convinced himself that any day now, Bill Gates big foot will drop on him and he will be crushed.

    I have found this to be the common attitude of most Khan critics. I have, what I believe are legit concerns about Khan, or what I would like to see him do with his platform…like include assessing a learners conceptual understanding of math and ideas on how to supplement. But I don’t think Khan has some evil plot to replace teachers. However, as I look for other teachers who have the same concerns as I do, I only find those who are engaged in some conspiracy theory.

    And I would just like to point out that saying that Khan can’t be used as a tool because it doesn’t meet the needs of every one of your students….in my 12 years of teaching, I have yet to see such a tool. Every teacher knows no such tool exist. You use different resources to meet the diverse needs of your students.

    • I’ll work backwards here:

      a) I never said that Khan cannot be used as a tool, sorry, read again.
      b) The “evil plot” to replace teachers is already happening. If you don’t see it, you’re not paying attention.
      c) Being “assailed” and being “helpless” are two different things. Maybe you should look up the words. http://dictionary.reference.com/
      d) Bill Gates’ foot is already dropping. Too bad you don’t see that. If you are, in fact, a teacher, then the first question you should ask yourself is why Bill Gates calls for educating other people’s children any differently than he educates his own.

      • It’s because he doesn’t want to pay for anybody else’s children. It’s the old libertarian garbage that says if I don’t use it, why should I pay for it.

        Never mind the notion of the “common good.” These twerps don’t believe in it. The problem is they are controlling public policy.

      • Absolutely. This has always been the point. Too bad that too many people are too thick to understand this fact.

    • Michael Paul Goldenberg

      Well, Kate, I don’t fit any of your stereotypes, so please read my comments on this blog, my piece in the July 26th Washington Post (at Valerie Strauss’ column, my several blog pieces about the Khan Academy and its many ills, and figure out what baloney you’re going to slice in trying to undermine my status as a valid critic.

      Khan may not have started out anti-teacher (just smug and very full of himself), but Bill Gates and a lot of his Billionaire Boys Club buddies are all about owning public education for various reasons (including, but not limited to, making lots more money and controlling what gets taught in schools: wouldn’t want any nasty progressives saying bad things about capitalism, hedge-fund managers, the 1%, etc.) and to maximize profits, those pain-in-the-ass teachers’ unions with their due process concerns, collective bargaining (Ooh! gotta HATE that if you’re an owner), living wage and reasonable benefit demands, fair and sane working conditions (can you say 60 students in a classroom? If you can’t, the guy running Detroit Public Schools for the governor surely can) just HAVE TO GO!

      So you demonize teachers, promote a goofy idiot like Sal Khan, a guy who has never taught a live group of kids even in a wealthy suburb, let alone in Detroit, Harlem, Philly, LA, etc., and claim that his unprepared mini-lessons on multiplying and dividing integers that is UTTERLY devoid of sense, that uses examples pulled randomly out of thin air with NO thought to logical, coherent order of ANY kind are in fact the work of “the best teacher” you’ve EVER SEEN!

      That’s what makes people who actually teach or work with teachers so enraged, for starters. And if you don’t get it, I pity YOUR students. No, I apologize. That’s a low blow. It’s what Khan’s Kadre likes to do. You might be one heck of a teacher. But I must say you seem less than perceptive about analyzing the stuff Sal’s purveying as gold.

  7. unafraidofnewteachingtools

    Khan is not trying to take your job. Let me repeat that. He is not trying to take your job! He is trying to make your job easier. He is not selling his particular service as the golden perfection of education reform. He is hinting that a detailed diagnostic review of each student in a classroom is an effective tool for teachers.

    He has not denounced physical interaction in classrooms.

    No no.

    Have you taken a look at his Los Altos school?

  8. Michael Paul Goldenberg

    You can’t appease the fanatic defenders of Sal Khan and KA. It’s impossible. They refuse to accept any questioning of his work, his work ethic, his knowledge, his goals, his character, or his knowledge of mathematics (let alone other subjects). No one has proper standing to critique Sal Khan. NO ONE. If you teach, you’re jealous, weak, afraid, threatened, lazy, stupid, conservative (hah!!!), REACTIONARY (hahahahahaha!!!), racist (yes, I’ve seen that one, defender of the status quo, ad nauseam. If you’re a potential “competitor,” then obviously you’re trying to crush your “opponent.” If you’re a professor, well, see “teacher”; and worse, because professors are all commies, and some are fat (see the commentary on the MTT2K first video), well, we needn’t take their criticism seriously. And if you’re none of those (I’m an independent educational consultant who coaches high school math teachers on a per diem basis in Detroit. I have no long-term contracts, no union, and no one yet has suggested that using KA would make my work obsolete, nor do I have the slightest fear of him or his work. Were what he was doing of real quality, i would be recommending him unhesitatingly. I do recommend the free videos of others. Why not Sal’s? I think my many criticisms of him and his work make that crystal clear.

    Here’s my strongest reason for critiquing Khan’s work: I care deeply about kids, about math, about democracy, and I think KA undermines kids’ thinking, disrespects mathematics, and ultimately will be seen to be anti-democratic and pro-elitist and plutocracy. Let’s see where this all is next month, next year, next decade. But I’ll be damned if I’m going to stay silent because a bunch of Khan-trolls need to make up a bunch of lies and insults to justify their bad taste and willingness to call McDonald’s hamburgers a healthy, nutritious, delicious meal.

  9. Pingback: New Policy for the Khan Academy | assailedteacher

  10. I am a student who disdain’s Khan’s Academy and I’ll tell you why:

    If he makes an error, he won’t redo the video to perfect it. He just brings it up the next video. WTF? What’s the point of bite-sized instruction if you won’t fix the bite I need? What if I don’t need the next one and don’t see the error? Where’s his sense of quality control? Can I take a test and say, “But teacher, Khan said… Oh, I didn’t see the correction video Khan made.”

    The guy DROOOOOOOOOOONES on and on. As he’s writing and has nothing to verbally add instructional to the few seconds he draws something, instead of letting us watch and absorb what he just said so we can mentally prepare for the next bit, he blabbers and repeats and blabbers. Give me a freakin second to think. Don’t fill the time calling us “studs” for studying science. Goodness gracious.

    What an annoying guy who seems to just like to hear himself talk and is only there secondarily to teach. Ok, it started off informally for his family member, but now that he’s touting to be or the masses, get some quality control, dude and STFU when you have nothing educational to add. You’re not my friend; you’re not my buddy; so stop trying to chit chat my ears off. I’m trying to study!

  11. Sure Khan Academy isn’t perfect, but I think it should be used as a supplement, not as primary education. Also consider its help to home-schoolers, who might not find everything they need in one curriculum, but don’t want to pay for something else. But I agree that people shouldn’t make such a big deal over it. Khan Academy is not the god of education: it’s just a collection of (mostly) helpful videos for when students need immediate help with homework.

  12. Khan Academy is the fast food of education.
    If you want good education you have to spend energy, time and money.
    If you want education without spending energy, time and money, you get very low level education. As simple as that.

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