Would you choose to build a house on top of an unfinished foundation? Of course not. Why, then, do we rush students through education when they haven’t always grasped the basics? Yes, it’s complicated, but educator Sal Khan shares his plan to turn struggling students into scholars by helping them master concepts at their own pace. (This talk comes from the PBS special “TED Talks: Education Revolution” which premieres Tuesday, September 13.)
Sal Khan, founder of the Khan Academy, sits in the main room of his laboratory school in Silicon Valley.
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.