From YouTube Pioneer Sal Khan, A School With Real Classrooms – ERIC WESTERVELT June 30, 2016 5:03 AM ET


Sal Khan, founder of the Khan Academy, sits in the main room of his laboratory school in Silicon Valley.

Sal Khan, founder of the Khan Academy, sits in the main room of his laboratory school in Silicon Valley.

Sami Yenigun/NPR

After some 10,000 online tutorials in 10 years, Sal Khan still starts most days at his office desk in Silicon Valley, recording himself solving math problems for his Khan Academy YouTube channel.

“OK, let F of X equal A times X to the N plus,” he says cheerfully as he begins his latest.

Khan Academy has helped millions of people around the world — perhaps hundreds of millions — learn math, science and other subjects for free.

But these days, just one flight of stairs down from his office, there is a real school that couldn’t be more different in form and structure from those online lectures.

Most Fridays, the lunch option includes a Socratic dialogue with Khan himself on a wide range of issues, ideas and trends.

“So the last couple of seminars we’ve been talking about technologies that will potentially change the world,” the 39-year-old Louisiana native tells the students. “We did self-driving cars, virtual reality; we talked about life extension, and robots.”

He’s sitting on a picnic table with a small group of seventh- and eighth-graders, who are nibbling on their lunches. The seminar topic when I visited? The prospects and perils of artificial intelligence.

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