- Is Salman Khan the Most Overhyped Edu-Entrepreneur of the Moment? Frederick Hess thinks so.
[Khan academy] is necessary and inevitable. Why? Because it merely does for schooling what books did five centuries ago, which is take the rote exercise of explaining stuff to students and permit experts to do it in a more careful and painstaking fashion, while freeing them from doing it again and again. Rather than explain the same points to twenty kids at a time, over and over, it becomes possible to devote that time to exquisitely preparing a lecture that can be experienced by 20,000 or 20 million students at a time. ........ Khan Academy makes it possible for teachers to start focusing more on, you know, teaching and mentoring and engaging with students, rather than on having to tell them stuff.
What Sal Khan has done is something that many have been calling for and that folks could've, should've been doing a few years ago (instead of filming and posting cute kitten videos). It's something that could've, should've come from folks in ed schools or school districts--and Kahn's energy and talent show just how pallid and negligent the edu-space has been when it comes to leveraging new tools and technologies. Kahn has a great story, is clearly a terrific lecturer, and the notion that students should listen to lectures at home and do their actual work in school is a sensible one, but it's not real clear to me why Kahn is popping up on Colbert or being feted as a star at high-profile edu-conferences.
I don't mean for any of this to be read as a critique of Khan Academy. I admire what Sal Khan has done and don't know it well enough at this point to have any particular concerns about his venture. But we do have this ugly habit in education of taking sensible ideas, overselling them, turning them into fads, inviting backlash, and then slouching away when they inevitably fail to deliver on ludicrous, inflated expectations. And my hope is that we're not revving up for one more go at that familiar treadmill.
- Jal Mehta of Harvard on the four different futures of school reform in America [Edweek]
If we keep doing what we're doing, we're not going to get there. Broadly speaking, four pathways have emerged that would depart significantly from our present path, and offer some reason to think that they might yield large-scale improvement:
- The International path
- Reform from the outside in
- Marrying school and social reform
- Technological reinvention
Jal Mehta says "Of course, none of these changes will come absent politics." [more]
- Anurag Behar of Azim Premji Foundation on why for-profit schools may not be a good idea. [Livemint]