Many say we should reduce class sizes….Khan wants 1.9 billion in his class!!

Posted by Phil on Mar 22, 2016

Khan’s vision of teaching is one which should be very much applauded. It is interesting that Willingham explicitly highlights the contrast between cultures in their methods of learning, even at a young age when comparing the numeracy ability and methods of younger children in Mundurucu compared to that of those in the Western World. There could even be a strong debate that there is a contrast between schools within the same borough in the UK, and therefore limited consistency. Khan’s vision of the children of the future learning in the “same classroom” is certainly an exciting prospect, and certainly levels the playing field in terms of opportunity and go a long way is dispelling the above cultural divides.

I think that Khan’s approach is certainly one which can work and to some extent is already being implemented into our schools. Over recent years, technology has become more of an aid to teaching, but is it being used to it’s full potential? The argument that children work at different paces, and do indeed catch up is very much the case, and at present it seems that there is too much pressure on maintaining uniform progress as opposed to ensuring each individual child has an acceptable understanding of the subject stage. Allowing children to work at their own pace will ensure a greater understanding along with the promotion of peer work. If this were to be adopted, would we eliminate a portion of the “can’t do math” group highlighted by Willingham.

In a modern world, being able to detect hot topics or “trending” has become key to marketing, Khan also explains that this can also be used to help tailor teaching which gives the child enthusiasm to reach higher levels. I think the key here is harnessing such enthusiasm to bring improvement and give the child greater belief. Part of Khan’s process does indeed involve the repetitive practice often required but at the same time useful hints are provided to create a level of understanding.

Interestingly, Willingham states that this repetitive function used within Maths plays an important role, many question the method of learning the timestables, but as Willingham adds, we need to have a memory function whereby answers are accurate in order to work out some of the more challenging areas that Maths provides. And does this not relate to the “relational” and “instrumental” learning discussed by Skemp in Task 2. I think Willingham accurately states that learning should be a combination of learned facts along with the methods used to provide solutions for our problems, isn’t this just what real life is all about?

I think both of the articles raise some very interesting points, and we all appear to want the holy grail of global uniformity of the way in which maths is taught. But I would like to know what is the best way? There is clearly more than one way in which many of Math’s problems can be solved, and I think having the flexibility to choose remains key.


  1. pepsmccrea
    12 April 2016

    Strong discussion here. Important connections being made and questions being posed. I’d be interested in hearing your analysis of the down sides of Khan too.

  2. pepsmccrea
    12 April 2016

    Oh, and cracking title! Newsworthy

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