So there have been countless observations made about the failures of the current school system. Whether it be grading brackets crippling student motivation, homogonized material simultaneously boring and intimidating kids, or structured curriculum snuffing out creativity, the problem has been articulated over and over again. What hasn’t been talked about so much is the solution, and today I believe I’ve found it; not thought of it myself, but literally found it:
The idea, for those who didn’t watch the video, is that you break all the topics of traditional schooling into short (12min) incremental lectures. The student can then browse these lectures learning at their own pace and progressing in their own direction. Think math is sweet? Take it as far as you can, as quickly (or slowly) as you desire. Why not learn algebra and calculus in direct succession, and then move on to social studies? In Khan’s system, teachers become moderators instead of monarchs, assisting with questions and providing only the most minimal structure necessary to keep kids learning.
Now, I haven’t checked out the Khan website yet, so I don’t know exactly what Khan’s longterm motivations are, but I’m too excited to care; I think it’s better if I just rant and empty my brain (that is why I started this blog - as an outlet for my mind’s rants) even if I do end up proposing an identical mission to what he’s already got planned.
How awesome would it be if instead of saying, “there’s going to be a test Tuesday”, a teacher mandated that a student had to take a minimum of X tests a year and cover a minimum of Y topics. The student progress at their own pace, and there’s no check points - move as fast or slow as you desire! And if someone doesn’t pass a test, there’s no reason to move on. Have the student stay on that topic until they master it.
What you end up doing is changing school from having smart kids and dumb kids, to a school where there is a threshold for how long it takes to make smart kids. Instead of graduating a D student after 4 years, you graduate an A student after 6-7 years. Even if it takes 10 years, the alternative (what is in practice now) isn’t really graduation at all; if the student isn’t educated, then moving on doesn’t make sense.
And you can’t say a kid is too dumb to get a topic either, because theres no reason why lessons can’t be as granular as possible. If you don’t get algebra, then there’s a reason for it - a lack of understanding in some core concept that algebra builds upon - so go and attack that reason head on with a lesson that addresses the sub-topic. The student wouldn’t be holding anyone else back, so who cares!?