Born To Teach…

Khan on Charlie Rose 2/26/13

I don’t want to get into being negative and whatnot, especially if prospective employers, colleagues, friends, etc… are going to look at this.  I’m not usually one to criticize.  And honestly, the comment I’m going to make is, I think, more about Charlie Rose than Salman Khan.  Because I think his statement about 1:30 in is an idea that most people have as a quick reaction when they first hear about Khan Academy.

Let’s be clear – I have seen/heard Khan’s comments before, and he doesn’t WANT to take the place of teachers and traditional classrooms.  So this is not a “let’s bash Khan Academy” post.  OK, so that’s out of the way.


At one point early on, Rose says, “I think you were born to teach.”  That’s when I stopped watching the video and came to post.  Yes, without hearing the response.  Because it’s not about Khan.  It is a great  resource if used in conjunction with a regular classroom.  But let’s be honest.  Khan’s videos are essentially a talking blackboard.  Imagine a world in which students got every lesson by having a teacher hit “play” at the beginning of class.

Worse yet, imagine that each student was in a cubicle with headphones (because let’s be honest, I don’t think students will watch Khan Academy videos with friends as a social event) when the teacher hit play.  From there, they would have control over rewinding, listening over, practicing, etc., but they would not be able to ask the teacher questions.  Then when they’d go out to look for help from links mentioned in videos, or just by a simple web search, they’d get distracted by a new app, new store, new TV show where celebrities learn to bobsled or some garbage, and all of a sudden a nice math lesson turns into a game of “let’s hide what I’m really doing from the teacher.”  But wait, there’s more!  The teacher doesn’t know, maybe doesn’t care, what the student is doing because the teacher has no way of SEEing what the student is doing.  Sure, the video is playing.  Is the kid sleeping?  Who knows.  Born to teach?  Eh.  I don’t know about that.  If the classroom is 108 degrees, Khan is 72, because it makes a great supplement, but on it’s own it’s just an acute problem.


About Mr. T

Well, I'm interested in math. Teaching it, learning it, describing it, living it. Creating it. Most importantly (to me) is helping others appreciate it as much as I do.
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