Blended Learning, Domestic, Flipped Classrooms, K-12, Math, Open Source Education, Personalized Learning, Required, Startups, STEM - Written by on Wednesday, January 2, 2013 6:11 - 0 Comments

Reviews, Critique & Excerpts From Sal Khan’s New Book: “The One World Schoolhouse: Education Reimagined”

The book 

Dave Heuts via Compfight

Khan Academy founder Sal Khan recently published a book titled The One World Schoolhouse: Education Reimagined.  For those unfamiliar, Khan is a highly educated former hedge fund trader who started making educational videos on YouTube and has become the world’s most popular open source tutor on a variety of topics. The Khan Academy site’s mission statement reads, “A free world class education for anyone, anywhere.” The non-profit offers short video lectures, practice exercises, and tools for teachers to track student performance. That platform has directed a flood of philanthropic money his way and gives him an important voice within the education realm. Here’s a roundup of some reviews of the book by various media in and out of the Ed Tech world and, at the end, an excerpt from the book:

Michael Gelbart, a PhD student at Harvard University’s School of Engineering & Applied Sciences writes: 

The book discusses a variety of topics such as the history of education, educational theory, the development of the Khan Academy itself, and criticisms of the current school system. Then, towards the end of the book, Khan introduces his own opinions about what schools should look like. In his view, classes should have 75-100 students with several teachers per class, students of all ages should be mixed together, there should be no boundaries between different disciplines, students should spend 1-2 hours with an educational software such as Khan Academy, and the majority of the day should be reserved for creative exploration.

Reflecting upon Khan’s suggestions, I realized that my elementary school experience in Vancouver, Canada was fairly similar to what Khan describes. From ages 10-12 I participated in a Multi-Age Cluster Class (MACC), a program in which about 20 students from grades 5-7 are mixed together and the time is very unstructured. Every Friday morning we had “creative outputs” time when we could do anything as long as it was creative. From what I remember, the most popular activity was playing a card game called Magic: The Gathering; I am not sure how useful this activity really is, although one of my childhood friends who played the most is now a professional poker player with more than $2 million in winnings.

Just as Khan prescribes, much of the learning was at our own pace. I used educational software to learn math on my own, and in my last year I decided not to do any math at all and help teach it to the younger kids instead. In fact, the class was so forward-thinking that we were allowed to choose our own grades! I remember deciding not to give myself all A’s for the sake of credibility, but I didn’t know which subject should get the B. I eventually settled on Social Studies, because I thought if I picked Phys Ed then I might look like a nerd. I don’t think it helped.

For me, the MACC was great, exactly for the reasons Khan suggests: I could learn at my own pace, I could be creative, and there was plenty of time for socializing. However, the class was officially for “gifted” students. To be clear, I am not sure what this label signifies, but at least we (and presumably the teachers as well) were selected in some – albeit possibly arbitrary – way. Can this type of classroom be scaled to an entire nation? Is Khan’s software enough to do the trick? If he tries to implement his ideas on a large scale, I am truly curious to see how they turn out.

Via The Bok Center Blog 

Tony Wan of EdSurge writes: 

Khan pays homage to a wide body of research as sources of inspiration, from the 1922 Winnetka Plan’s proposal for mastery-based learning, to Nobel Prize-winning research on the biological and neurological effects of learning. (And for the record, he’d like to state that “this notion of ‘flipping the classroom’ was around before Khan Academy existed and clearly wasn’t my idea.”) These ideas and findings are set against the backdrop of the stifling classroom environment of today, which he, like many others, attributes to the 18th century Prussian school model, a recurring punching bag throughout the book. (Poor, poor Prussia.)

His visions for the classrooms of the future are unorthodox and ambitious, which is more reason why the most compelling-but tragically also one of the shortest-part of the book explores his attempt to put these ideas into practice at the Khan Academy Summer Camp. Having 100 students of different ages in one room creating robots, art, music, playing board games, and working on Khan Academy lessons (but only for one or two hours, he emphasizes!), may sound like a recipe for a cacophonous headache. But this “organized chaos” represents his best attempt at testing and realizing his bold vision. And this discussion certainly deserves more than a mere four pages!

For all the buzz about Salman Khan as a “pioneer in integrating technology and learning,” (to quote Bill Gates from the book’s back cover), the book is surprisingly sparse on the technical specifics of how Khan goes about doing so. A deep dive into the details behind his platform may be outside the purview of the book. But there are times when Khan makes casual assumptions about the capability of technology without offering much in the way of practical evidence. For example, he repeatedly stresses importance of topic mastery, and where technology can assist. But at the same time, he admits that his platform assesses proficiency based on a “get ten right answers in a row” heuristic-not particularly impressive to subject experts and the pedagogically-minded.

Via EdSurge


Brian Lehrer of NPR affiliate station WNYC in New York interviews Sal Khan on the book here:



And here is an excerpt from the book itself… 

Excerpt: "The One World Schoolhouse: Education Reimagined" by Salman Khan

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2013-01-08 16:00

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