Friday, June 22, 2012

The Kahn Academy: The Future of Education?

Thinking of Universities and how toxic their mix of alleged education and politically correct indoctrination can be, prompts mention of the Kahn Academy. If you learn nothing else useful from this lousy blog, you may well find Salman Kahn's educational resource of real value.

Kahn is a hugely well educated and hugely gifted instructor who has developed an approach to online learning that offers promise of eliminating much of the ruinously expensive and politically corrupting bureaucratic educational establishment that is one of the most destructive state elements sucking the life-blood from Western nations.

Here, on 60 Minutes, Kahn explains his approach to on-line learning. What Kahn has developed is the mechanism for the kind of flexible, personalized, non-politicized and cost-effective education system we argued for here.

In essence, the process is this. Instead of teachers lecturing students and giving them homework assignments to test their learning, Kahn's approach has online instructors lecturing students at home in short, manageable segments, while teachers monitor and assist students in exercises to test how well they have assimilated the lessons viewed.

According to this paradigm of learning, the teacher serves as a tutor, checking to see that assigned lessons have been learnt, trouble-shooting when students run into difficulties in understanding, and directing students to appropriate material to take them to the next stage.

This scheme of education eliminates the lock-step advance of an entire age-group, for the lecturing is one-on-one, over the internet. Each student can thus take whatever lessons that logically follow from what he has successfully mastered so far. The teacher, as tutor, assists each student with whatever part of the program he happens to be working on now. By the time of high school graduation, some kids will have mastered advanced university or even post-graduate material, while others will have attained only a much lower standard. But that lower standard will have been fully mastered, because the student has been tutored at every step of the way and not advanced from any stage until that stage has been mastered.

University administrators like Lendley Black, President of U Minnesota, Duluth, who think it the role of the university to brainwash students instead of teach them to be self-confident and accomplished young adults, will soon be redundant. New media are making the traditional university, with its astronomical costs, its rampant political corruption and its remarkable educational inefficiency increasingly insupportable.

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