60 Minutes Worships Salman Khan And So Do You

"I'm just a humble guy."

“60 Minutes” ran a fluff piece last night about the Khan Academy. It is a perfect example of the type of uncritical coverage he gets from major media. The only criticisms were reiterated by Khan himself, which he merely dismissed out of hand.

Problem #1: The Flipped Classroom

Khan took offense to the idea that he wants to replace teachers with computer programs. Instead, he says he wants to see students learning content at home on the Khan Academy website, then have students come into school the next day to work on Khan’s problems. The teacher will be there to be a coach or a facilitator.

The biggest problem with this is that it is, in fact, a recipe to replace teachers. He is calling for taking the presentation of content out of the hands of teachers and into his own hands. He is also calling for taking the structuring of assessment activities out of teachers’ hands and into his own. This brings up major questions about knowledge: how children encounter knowledge and what knowledge shall be required.

In history, what if a teacher wants their students to approach an historical topic in a critical way? What if they want their students to examine the many viewpoints of people living during an historical era, as well as different viewpoints of historians about that era? In Khan’s “flipped classroom” model, students would encounter the content first through one of his videos. Only afterwards might there be opportunity for the classroom teacher to get students to study critically the topics already taught by the Khan Academy.

This is all wrong. Any teacher knows that the first impression a student gets about a topic is the one that sticks the most. It is one of the reasons why so many students enter high school thinking that Christopher Columbus discovered America. What if Khan’s videos approach history from a myopic viewpoint, presented from a very narrow perspective? (which seems to be the case, from the history videos I have seen.) The teacher now has to compensate for this and get their students to rethink the information on the video. It makes the teacher’s job that more difficult. I am sure the same thing applies to one degree or another for math, science, literature and every other subject.

The same thing applies to assessment exercises. Assessments solidify knowledge in students’ minds. His flipped classroom model calls for teachers to guide students through exercises of his design and project-based activities of his suggesting. The teacher becomes nothing more than an implementer, someone following a script. It really does not matter what the teacher wants, or knows from years of experience what is best for the development of critical thinking.

The flipped classroom may not call for the wholesale replacement of teachers, but it certainly does call for the wholesale deskilling of teachers. What is much worse, it puts Khan Academy itself as the first disseminator of scholastic knowledge.

Problem #2: The Cultural Divide  

Khan says he wants more human interaction, but looking at the children in that classroom with their heads in their computers gives the lie to that idea. They had their heads in their computers the night before they came to school and had their heads in computers once they came to class. If there is more human interaction in the classroom presented in this video than the classrooms I see on a daily basis, it certainly was not evident.

The people featured in this video seem to paint teaching in brick and mortar classrooms as nothing more than lecturing and reading from a textbook. I certainly do not use a textbook, nor do I lecture, so I take offense to the broad brush with which they paint all teachers. In the presentation of their content, teachers adjust to their classes. Even if the teacher is nothing more than a lecturer (which is very rare), that lecture is given by someone who knows their population, knows the needs of their students and knows how to adjust their words, actions and activities to the students that sit before them.

I teach English Language Learners every year, as well as students with learning disabilities. There is no way I can present material in the same way to these students as I do to mainstream students. Even within these categories, there are students with differing levels of motivation and skills. By the middle of the school year, I find that my teaching style, my demeanor, my notes, the material, the questions I ask differ from class to class. There is an unconscious adjustment that takes place in the style of an experienced teacher where they sense just how to tweak things in order to have the greatest possible impact.

Khan offers nothing of the sort. As I have stated before, he offers nothing but a pause button. All a student can do with a Khan video is watch the same content delivered in the same way over and over again. A very thoughtful analysis of Khan’s videos by Mr. Foteah concludes that Khan uses words that are way out of the league of many English Language Learners, not to mention of mainstream students. Khan, the Ivy League graduate, uses a certain manner of speaking that is alien to inner city youth and immigrant students. No amount of pausing and rewinding will overcome this. Khan cannot make the types of mid-lesson and mid-semester adjustments that a veteran teacher can make.

There is no doubt that Khan’s videos have helped many students. Videos have helped me understand certain topics better, usually Youtube lectures by college professors or policy wonks. But I am a motivated student, I have some background in the topics I want to learn about and I have a sense of the areas in which I need help. Khan’s videos do little for the unmotivated student, the one that teachers encounter on a daily basis. The bells and whistles that Khan adds to his lectures, like the drawing program and the gamey assessment activities, will do nothing for the student who has to walk through gang territory every day or who comes from a home where they are malnourished.

Problem #3: Khan’s Team and Supporters

Khan is not an educator, nor are the people on his team. Perhaps the most insulting thing about the 60 Minutes piece, as well as the people who tend to totally embrace Khan, is how dismissive they are of what teachers do on a daily basis. Sanjay Gupta, the person who did the 60 minutes story, is a medical doctor. He keeps contrasting Khan to a school room of lectures and textbooks, a school room that is largely non-existent after decades of education reform and flavors of the month. It is scary to think that people with so little awareness of what actually takes place in schools think they have found the next great educational paradigm shift. They do not even know the existing paradigm.

One of Khan’s supporters on the video even said that change does not usually come from the institutions that run public schools. Perhaps they have not been paying attention to what has been happening in New York, D.C. and Chicago over the past ten years. There has been nothing but change, usually brought about by people who are not educators themselves. This change has taken place with the cooperation of the unions, including our own beloved UFT here in NYC. To say that the system does not embrace change does not even pass the giggle test.

Khan is part and parcel of this wider movement we call education reform. They work from this Shock Doctrine-esque idea that schools are in a “crisis” or are “failing”, so they must undergo major changes. It was not at all clear that schools were in any crisis at all before the reformers took the reins of the school system. The things they have used to justify this “crisis”, namely test scores, have not improved since the reforms have been implemented. The “crisis” in education is a perception built by a constant barrage of news stories about school shootings, teacher misconduct and peeling paint on the walls. These things have not, nor have ever been, presented in proper proportion to the system as a whole. Even if schools are in a crisis, does this mean that schools themselves need a paradigm shift? What has always been overlooked, indeed never touched, is the impact of poverty, family dysfunction and street crime on the school system. These are structural problems with society, not failures of school systems. The more we blame schools for these issues, and the more we think “changing” schools will solve these issues, the more we remove ourselves from any structural solutions to poverty, inequality and broken communities. Education reform in general is one large mass distraction from the broken socioeconomic system under which we all live.

Bill Gates is Khan’s biggest supporter. He says his children use Khan’s videos, yet they do not attend flipped classrooms. Just like every other reformer, they send their own children to elite private schools with small class sizes, veteran teachers and traditional methods. Just like every other reformer, this type of education is somehow not appropriate for everyone else’s children. What Khan’s movement represents is the deskilling of the teaching profession, something the reformers have been aiming at for decades.

The last line of defense for the Khan supporter, as well as the supporter for of many other ed reforms, is that the Khan Academy is just “one more tool” in the teacher’s arsenal. This gets tiring after a while. Teach for America was just one tool to overcome a teacher shortage, now they are pushing out veteran teachers in an age when no shortage exists. Fuzzy Math was one more tool, yet it was foisted on school districts nationwide as the standard curriculum. Young adult literature was one more tool to get students interested in reading, now it is one of the fastest growing literary (I hate using that word) industries around. Now Khan is one more tool. It cannot represent one more tool as well as a paradigm shift in education.

There are so many tools around that teachers do not know which one to use next. Most of these tools are things educators have never asked for, never sought out and never had input into creating. Teachers have been asking for smaller class sizes for years, yet it has never come to pass. We have been calling for the amelioration of childhood poverty for years, yet it continues to get worse. We have called to retain our job protections so that we can speak up for our students, yet they continue to be eroded away. Why not give teachers the tools they have been asking for over the past decades, instead of foisting tools from an ivory tower that were never asked for?

It is because these things were never meant to be tools. They all seek to undermine teaching as a craft, to get as big a slice as the education pie as possible and to hand off the public institution of education off to private corporations.

If you are for the corporatizing of public education, then say so. It never happens like that. Just like Salman Khan, they will sit there with a big grin and act like they have a genuine concern for other peoples’ children. It is the grin of the con artist.

26 responses to “60 Minutes Worships Salman Khan And So Do You

  1. I saw the story coming up last night and shut it off in solidarity. Thanks for the recap…it is nauseating.

  2. You make value points and I agree on many points that you made. I agree that veteran teachers help motivate the unmotivated. Veteran teachers can shift and adjust to each class because each population walking in your classroom changes. The children did look locked to the computer and shut off to actual learning. I agree to the old Socrates method of basic dialogue were the teacher and the students have a general discussion using question and response. This helps students to achieve critical thinking moments by pushing them to think. Using these ancient methods of teaching, especially in a small classroom setting, helps the students to generate their own opinions. I am very skeptical of the Khan approach; however, I cannot ignore it as a teacher. It may not be for every student, but it may work for some. With larger classroom sizes and students at different learning levels it might just work in some situations. If I can track by gathering data left over from the night before on what the student viewed from one of Khan’s videos then it can help me in the classroom. I am so confident in my teaching skills that I know a computer cannot totally replace me or even take away the professionalism that I bring into the classroom day in and day out. With each generation changing, especially with the impact of the social media, we cannot ignore what computers and the internet is doing to help teachers to teach to the masses.

    • Thank you for your thoughts.

      I will agree that Khan’s videos can be useful. As I have stated before, it can be useful in a very limited way for a very limited set of students. For such a limited thing, it has been getting accolades, attention and funding all out of proportion to its usefulness.

      As it stands now, his assessments are very narrow and the feedback a teacher gets from the assessments does not give you much indication of the thought process of students. I can tell much more from grading an essay, a research paper or asking questions.

      I am also secure in my teaching. I have taught in some of the worst schools of NYC and routinely teach the toughest classes with what I consider great success, How great we are as teachers is not really the point.

      Khan is part of a wider movement that seeks to displace teachers, period. Whether you are good or not, if you are a teacher with a pension who belongs to a union, you are a target. I have every reason to believe that you are a fantastic teacher. But there is no reason to believe that you or I have the money and influence over the education system that Gates, Rhee and the rest have.

      They want teachers to be automatons, if they want teachers at all. Besides being good in the classroom, we need to fight in the streets for public education.

      • I teach in the great state of Ohio and this year my union won an attack called SB5 from Governor Kasich in November. However, he hit us by cutting funding across the state in education and I am in the process of being RIF. I have been teaching High School Social Studies for 8 yrs. I firmly believe in public education and the union teachers. The union teachers are the foot soldiers in the battlefield of trying to win our children back. I just believe that we should not waste our resources on trying to fight the anti-teacher movement. In the “Art of War” we will only lose by engaging in this war. We should just assimilate there ideas is small increments and inform the public our true intentions as the noble teachers we are. I love your blog because you provide a rational viewpoint.

      • I am sorry to hear about all the nonsense you are going through in Ohio. You certainly are feeling the crunch in the war on teachers.

        We fundamentally disagree on the the idea of our need to assimilate. The war on teachers is part of an even broader war on the public sector, a war that was resulted in the dismantling of democratic institutions over the past 35 years.

        I believe that all public institutions, education especially, are what we make of it. Part of the reason why this dismantling has been successful is the general apathy, even the general open-mindedness, to these reforms. People sit back and say “this is the way the world is heading, mind as well go with the flow”.

        But says who? Maybe I am naive, but I don’t believe the future is written in stone. Part of the problem with the unions, both major national unions, is their willingness to let others define the terms of the debate. It is part of the reason we have seen our right and professionalism eroded away.

        If only I could take Khan’s videos and just see them for what was in front of me, I would have a much more positive attitude towards it. I cannot ignore what Khan’s backers are trying to accomplish, what his overall “education” philosophy entails and what the implications for all of it is.

        No longer can we allow others to define the terms of the debate, or tell us in what direction education is headed.

  3. Thanks for pointing out this episode. I wish it were surprising to hear that people without a professional background in teaching/learning and human development are making such heavily-promoted instructional materials.

    Regarding the “flipped classroom” concept: the most successful users and the most vocal proponents I know among people who actually teach are those teaching at the postsecondary level, and mostly those in medicine and the sciences. It appears that flipping is much more useful at that stage, for the reasons of experience and development you’ve discussed here and elsewhere (i.e. already having certain study skills, preparation, independent intellectual/academic motivation, and having basic life needs met). But “flipping” alone is not sufficient for optimal teaching and learning there, either, and it’s arguably much more appropriate in certain disciplines (natural sciences) than others (history, as you mention). That may partly explain Sanjay Gupta’s involvement and enthusiasm.

    Maybe I missed it above, but what about the simple fact that these materials are being given away for free? That appears to be the ultimate devaluation of teaching: replacement by something (not even someone) that has no dollar price.

    • That is an interesting thought about medical school and why Gupta might be so enthusiastic about the Khan Academy. I can imagine that a nice video can help aspiring doctors learn about a very specific medical idea in a way to release medical teachers from the burden of teaching neddlesome and archaic things. Unfortunately, applied to the realm of public education, nothing is quite so archaic or neddlesome.

      Yeah, the whole giving it away for free thing is sort of a big point that I didn’t really address head-on. Khan essentially is offering to offer the heavy lifting of teaching for free, things like content knowledge, assessment and delivery. These are the areas that require the real preparation and skill on the part of the teacher. But by offering it for free, Khan is essentially attempting to hollow out the teaching profession, leaving schools with nothing more than husks of teachers that he euphemistically dubs “coaches”.

      Khan Academy is free. Plus, how much do husks of teachers deserve to get paid? Putting two and two together, we can see what the game is.

      Thanks for the thought and the discussion.

  4. beautifullly written and heartfelt. thank you for your devotion to students. they are, after all, our future.

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  6. Why oh why do we even need teachers like you. You perceive Khan as a threat to teaching. Your correct he is a threat. You are obsolete already and Khan is just exposing this. I had fantastic teachers when I was in school but none of them had any real impact on me. I learned more from myself, from dead men like Feynman, Aristotle, Benjamin Graham, Benjamin Franklin, from men I never met and from the Internet than I ever learned from a teacher.

    You vastly overestimate your own importance. Marcus Aurelius used to talk about the virtue of NOT sending children to public schools and having them privately tutored instead. He was right. Public schools are an abomination. The sooner we get rid of you the BETTER.

    • Oh yes, the Romans were very big on providing “public schools” to even the most plebeian of children. :rollseyes:

      Educate your children in front of a computer if you want. I don’t totally disagree with everything you say about public schools, but replacing them with pixels is certainly a step backwards.

      If anything, you seem to want some sort of version of home schooling. That would be great. Are you willing to provide the decent wages, short work hours and job protections that would allow parents to stay at home to educate their children?

      I doubt that you would. Until you have some sort of plan outside of “destroy teachers”, then you’re just petulantly airing your angst of having teachers that never “got” you and the cool, awesome, deep stuff you were layin’ down.

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  9. I am in total support of Khan Academy…

    I know you will not like my viewpoint but here it goes,,,,

    1. The school classroom model was originally designed by the Prussian military intended to create an obedient society by providing a platform for authority and for its children to recognize and submit to this authority. The rationale for this control model (classroom) was to mobilize its young citizens in times of war. The classroom model was eventually adopted by the west including North America. Today we have the industrial military complex to address national security yet this classroom or should I say military model still persists.

    The mindset to control students is evidence by the grading system, devised and adopted in the 17th century and still used in 2012. And this is the crux of my argument. It is my opinion school marks are draconian, pschologically damaging, and counter productive for both the A student as well as for the C student. I will not even speak of the poor F student. Furthermore, school marks are often misused by the authority figures (teachers) and given for behavioral modification. Children who follow instruction, are non disruptive, and are obedient are often awarded with a good mark and children who are less inclined to follow or independently minded with less favorable marks. May I mention Enstein here?

    It is in my opinion the grading system has created a society full of followers, who upon graduation from college, are all on the search for employment. There is only a recent awakening due to the sluggish economy that perhaps entrepreneurialship needs to be moved to the forefront in the classroom. How though is the teacher going to control independent thinkers, potential leaders using a militaristic method such as a grade marking system to produce our leaders for tomorrow? The output of graduates today struggling to find a job in a shrinking job market is just not working. You may argue that it is not educator’s job to provide employment, and while that was true decades past, today our society is counting on higher education to provide innovation for future employment.

    It is my opinion Khan Academy has the potential to replace the marking grade system with its innovative approach usung statistical data to both validate student progress as well as identify challenges requiring additional time for mastery without placing a grade “label” on the student ‘s head. A label that can last a life time sometimes in a very, very negative way. So unjust. Furthermore, both Harvard and MIT, will be releasing in the fall of 2012, EdX, a free online access to their courses offered to the world. If you view the announcement, May 2, 2012 online, you will hear the rationale for this approach, namely they wish to use the statistical data gained by the servers offering the online course material to a worldwide audience whereby they may data collect from these students to better learn and understand the learning processes, something, Khan Academy has been doing since 2004!

    2. My biggest excitement with Khan Academy is its revolutionary scalability. Instead of the teacher having to repeat his/her lectures over and over again, a one-time video can now be created in a more intimate, less talked-down approach and shared with the World. Imagine the scalability to view and witness to lectures being delivered by the very best teachers the world has to offer.

    In closing, the true reason you have created this website is that you are scared for your job and I empathize. May I say in closing, your profession is not alone in this disruption due to technology. Perhaps the definition of employment needs to be addressed but that is a different topic for another time.

    Thanks for allowing me my viewpoint on your website.

    Khan Academy is here to stay !!

  10. I am a public school teacher. Not in math, but in music, though I often end up in the topic of math and also teach it on the side and there are many similar situations.
    I spend class time engaging my students in authentic experiences, but sometimes I know that not all of my students have the basics that are required for the activity and I struggle with the decision of whether to spend time drilling (wasting the time of students who already get it) or just move on (causing some students to fake it or fail). If I want all of my students to be able to identify piano keys by note name, or identify pitches on a staff, or tap out various rhythms of increasing difficulty, I have to put making actual music on hold while chucking in with each student. Some of these things I could do with worksheets, but I would not have the results of that assessment quickly enough to plan the rest of out class time based on it. I also hate the idea that I might “grade” those papers and hand them back to students, than decide whether to teach the lesson to everyone again and test again, or just move on. i wish I had some method of helping each student achieve mastery of these basic skills so we could all use them together in class. If I were a math teacher I would be very excited about Khan’s practice tools for this reason- a unit does not end with each student being judged. it ends when you actually have learned it (and then you continue to review it later.)

    I am very wary of people who would say who is and is not an educator. Being a school teacher does not mean that you can or should control information- quite to opposite. Students should know that you are just one source, the textbook is just one source, their parents, television, youtube, just other sources, and they need their critical thinking skills to put it all together themselves and make their own decisions about it. You do not teach critical thinking by telling students that you are right.

    If you say Khan is not an “educator” then no doubt you do not consider your students, their parents, or any other members of your community capable of being educators, or you think they at least don’t deserve the title just because they haven’t taken the certification test.

  11. the short of my thoughts:
    You can criticize classroom teachers for misusing any tool (especially worksheets and textbooks)
    You can criticize administrators for thinking that one tool fixes everything
    you can criticize the media for spreading bad ideas about education

    But don’t criticize anyone for actively trying to share their knowledge. Do not say that only licensed and publicly employed ‘teachers’ are allowed to share their knowledge- that is very dangerous.

    Teach children to critical thinking and information literacy and encourage them to seek out knowledge everywhere. Let them know that you do not know everything, but your job is to help them learn how to learn.

    And to the commenters who think no one should help someone learn without direct monetary compensation, you really don’t under stand what teaching is all about. There is a difference between worthless and priceless. Teaching is my life and I would do it whether I got paid or not.

  12. You have made many valid points in your argument. However, it seems to me that the very reason that Khan’s Academy has received the attention it does is because it actually helped a lot of students. I wish to contribute my own opinions on the general US education system and Sal’s role into all of it. However, I might have some facts wrong here and there since I am a Singaporean and do not have total understanding of the
    US system.

    On the news, I have read that the US education system is ranked somewhere in the 20- 25s? In Singapore, we have one of the best education system because in Singapore, the government is willing to spend money into education. Furthermore, the schools also spend this money on the right things; teachers and materials. All other things such as field trips, computers, and even school buses, are secondary. In Singapore, I have met many American teachers that have immigrated to Singapore because they do not have job opportunities in the US. Furthermore, most of them hold the opinion that the so called “veteran” teachers are always given priority. This had caused the newer teachers to be highly disregarded and disrespected, leading them to find new job opportunities. Now, the “veteren” teachers are also paid more than younger teachers, which makes sense if the teachers are truly veteran and truly teach the students. However, the trend that the immigrated teachers have described is less veteran teachers keeping the job, but more elderly teachers keeping the job. There is a large difference here; although elderly teachers may have more experience, they may be outdated or even be a little slow in their teachings. This leads to students getting less scores than expected. The role KA plays in this is to “update” the students, as well as give them a general conception of the topic at hand. To simplify things, Sal tries to limit his each videos to at most 10 minutes each. This would encourage a learner to watch 10 by 10 minute videos, rather than one big 30 minute video on the topic, which is more of a psychological effect.
    In all, I believe that Sal is trying to complement the system in areas where teachers have failed. However, since Sal cannot know where students are having problems, he prepares for almost every possibility by doing videos on many different topics.
    On a personal note, I agree with wryan. We should not be criticizing someone for trying to help, (and there are results showing grades are higher) we should try to help them to improve on their ideas. We can also give positive criticism, and add a suggestion after that to lend support to your argument. From all I read, I actually get the impression that you (The Assailed Teacher) is a little afraid of this revolutionary system because your job (if it is) will be affected. I find it a little ironic that although Americans try to expand a child’s creativity early in life, they criticise it later when they grow up.

  13. My wife is a middle school teacher, my daughter a Teacher in Harlem, and I support all the efforts to keep privatization out of school. However, I think you are picking on the wrong guy/organization, just because he got some funding from Bill Gates. I think Khan Academy is a great resource for students of all ages. I also think other sites, like MathTutorDVD, iTunes University, etc. are great resources, especially for kids who are motivated.
    The basic problems of in-equality, poverty, lack of good parenting, etc. are responsibilities of society and government. Mr. Khan cannot solve these problems, nor is he under the illusion that he can. But if he can improve anyone’s lives by offering to help them, why not? The media will always hype things – whether it’s Michele Rhee, Waiting for Superman, or whatever, the 24 hour news cycle will need to be fed.
    Regarding the content, I am a software engineer with over 30 years experience. I use fairly high level math everyday in my work. I find his videos useful for me to brush up on topics that I haven’t looked at in a while. And his explanations are generally clear and correct. Regarding mistakes, well, take a look at Professor Gilbert Strang’s Linear Algebra videos from MIT. He makes mistakes, and he is a world renowned teacher. (although I think his textbook is poor). I think teachers from Middle School forward could have their own videos that their students could use for review before tests. You don’t have to just have Sal Khan – each teacher could post their video of the class, and then a student who was sick, or needed to watch it again could do so. All these things are possible without Khan Academy (although they cost money of course).

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  15. I’ll reply to them one by one since it’s just generally better than me going on a long rant only to have completely digressed by the end.
    1-I agree that the whole idea of the flipped classroom is a bit flawed, especially considering that it would give khanacademy and whatever future online academic resources that might develop on it a control over the mindset of the younger generation, however, when you talk about deskilling teachers, I’m sorry to say it’s already happened. In my public school, which was rated the number one school in the state, most of my teachers didn’t teach any more than the teachers called for in the khanacademy plan would have. I’m being perfectly serious, no exaggeration. I think that our biggest problems are how to make sure only people who are dedicated and good teachers are the ones teaching the material, and how to get more people educated in the world. I think that his idea is flawed, but at least he’s thinking of the problem and trying to find a way to solve it. If we could get many good, dedicated, engaging teachers on there providing a variety of views and ways of thinking, then maybe it would help educate people who currently find it hard to get personal access to a physical classroom with one of those sorts of teachers. It’s a wildly optimistic and highly improbable idea that probably goes along with all of us holding hands and singing kumbaya, but it’s worth a shot!
    2. Okay, acknowledging that there are some really good teachers out there but you’re kind of making the generalization that all teachers are like you. I know several like you, however, I also know of some who teach in the lecture format. Even worse, I know tons of them who just don’t teach. My earth science teacher, every language teacher I’ve ever had, my biology teacher, the list goes on and on and on. Reiterate point about the quality of education. Glad you see the supplementary benefits of khanacademy videos, that’s all most people I know use them for.
    By the way, they’re starting to translate his videos into different languages. As for kids with learning disabilities, they need live instruction because they need things explained in certain ways and at a certain pace that (at least from what I’ve noticed) tends to vary from person to person. There is no substitute or supplement for a good tutor at that point.
    If i had time to put my head in my computer that much, I would not be getting 5 hours of sleep max a night. Just putting that out there. Not all students are like that, please don’t generalize.
    3. Well this is awkward. Funny, when I told my parents about what was going on at my public school, they got me out right away and put me in an elite private school (that I tested into and all that fun stuff). I would like to see a reform of the public school system, and so would my parents, although our definition of reforming is making sure that there are better teachers there who care more about whether their students are learning or not rather than whether they get the best paycheck/benefits. However, the reform teaching methods I’ve seen are sometimes good, sometimes really scary, I would agree with you that traditional teaching methods do seem to work best, provided the teacher is good, of course. If it’s not broken, don’t fix it. As for all the “tools” out there…I have not been affected by them. I think khanacademy is just good for clearing stuff up for confusion, but calling it a teacher’s tool just doesn’t seem right. It’s more of a student resource…and it should not be integrated totally into the curriculum.
    Your ending was pure hatred. Khanacademy wasn’t created to undermine the teaching authority, it was made to help his family learn. I’d be a bit more careful before I assume everyone out there is out there for negative purposes. Your article makes teachers seem like poor victims, but from my experience, some “teachers” don’t deserve to even have the jobs they have. Education is a mess, it’s always been a mess, and as dismal as it sounds, it’s staying a mess for a long time unless people are willing to cooperate with each other.
    I respect your opinions, hopefully you won’t kill me if I’m misinformed about something and everyone’s just as happy as ever in the end. I hope.

    • I clarify, my school uses modifications of traditional teaching methods. It really is whatever the heck the teacher wants to use, and so far I have to complaints, because I have learned a ton. And I am fully aware of how much of an elitist thing private school education is. It just happens to be something that worked better for me, and isn’t education supposed to be about the student, not the teacher?

  16. As a current college student I must say I use khan academy videos as a supplement to many of my classes/teachers. We must realize everyone has a unique style of learning and if you do not understand one way but sal’s way makes sense to you why not have both to compare….Neither one has to be better or worse or the only way!

  17. This is ridiculous, I graduated from a small public school where, like many other southern schools, had their football coaches teaching mathematics and other vital topics. More than half the teacher I had were incompetent and just were their for the paycheck or for Friday night fame. Without Khan Academy I wouldn’t have a chance pursuing a degree a physics as I am now. Khan academy is a wonderful supplement to the classroom and some pride driven teachers shouldn’t be so negative towards it. I still use Khan Academy if I need a refresher on some of the less used areas of calculus or physics, he does this for free, not just for all of us privledged Americans but to people in third world countries that maybe don’t have a strong education system. Instead of looking at the few flaws that an online system like this has, look at the countless opportunities this gives children and adults alike, education will do nothing but advance and improve our world.

  18. Couldn’t have said it better. Thanks Tim ^

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