In a recent article in Wired (web version), “The Tech Elite’s Quest to Reinvent School in Its Own Image”, Salmon Khan is touted as the “world’s best know teacher.” As you probably know, Mr. Khan is responsible for the creation of Khan Academy, a collection of videos to assist with instruction.
Take a look at his TED talk, uploaded in 2011, to get a sense of his direction with video:
Even Khan came to realize that instructional videos are not enough to truly educate.
He followed with a book called “The One World Schoolhouse” that spelled out his vision, one in which schools abandon outdated practices—like homework, daily schedules composed of distinct 50-minute periods, grades, and classes organized by age—and embrace “radical new methods to prepare students for the post-industrial world.”
If you read the article, you will find that many of the new schools are being funded by tech giants like Mark Zuckerberg and the Venture Capital firm, Andreessen Horowitz. The development is taking place in the Bay Area where tech is hot. However even with strong financial backing, tuition may run up to $22,000 per year.
While I strongly support engaged learning and hands-on, relevant activities, I didn’t see much mention of the relationships of the students and teachers.
These dollars support lab schools, places where ideas are incubated and grown. It sounds as though the children whose parents can afford this are serving as the lab school kids. The students are given contemporary tools for learning, problems to solve in an active arena – we want this for all of our children.
While I strongly support engaged learning and hands-on, relevant activities, I didn’t see much mention of the relationships of the students and teachers. As a teaching professional, I value the training I received during my coursework for my degrees. I believe it is truly a profession that cannot be replaced by those in business or engineering who do not hold the same level of educational background.
With that in mind, I struggled as I worked through some conflicts about school as we know it, where we want to go, and how we manage the politics that surround public education. If you get a chance to read this article, I’d love to hear your input. Can WE reinvent schools?