The Future of Education

Posted by Jane on Apr 6, 2016

I really enjoyed the positive nature of all the resources:  with an open mind, access to good resources and good teaching all can achieve at maths.

Things that really stood out from the Khan lecture were:

  • allowing pupils to work at their own pace and especially the charts showing ‘slow learners’ catching up….brilliant to see
  • the incredibly powerful diagnostic tools on progress, what students were struggling with and what they were doing well with…a fantastic resource for teachers
  • the knowledge tree which directed learning in  such a transparent way so you can see where you have been and where you are going …. I found this so empowering, I think, because it sets out a shared journey rather than a teacher pulling topics, seemingly, out of a hat
  • the  concern that even those getting even high scores in tests may actually have missed a key bit of learning and the future impact of such gaps….a great advert for mastery
  • the accessibility of this resource which – returning to a common theme for me – means giving access to educational resources to all across the world

From this you can probably guess that I am a bit of a Khan Academy fan….both before and after this TED talk.

What I hadn’t thought through at all was how to use resources like this in the classroom. .

The idea of a lot of the actual learning being done outside of the classroom, with the classroom being used more for individual teacher and peer support caught my attention. Immediately I begin to pick holes,  what happens if one or two pupils don’t do it, can people really learn on line without face to face teaching? But then I knock down my own barriers….the progress diagnostics allow you to know if work isn’t getting done; and I quite like online learning (especially when I am struggling) for many of the reasons that Khan outlined.

Which brings me to the article and the bonus video.  The strong sense that we learn most by trying and failing from the video and how this is inhibited in most people fascinated me.  My experience to date is that the students are driven by getting the right answer and moreover by the fear of getting something wrong in front of their peers and teachers.  If the video is right then this must be stunting learning, One great solution would be to try and change this classroom culture (maybe with greater rewards for trying rather than ‘just’ succeeding) although it seems that Khan is advocating another partial alternative solution being that learning on line takes away some of these pressures.

And then finally to the article. At one level I found the article out of kilter with the other resources but as I think  more I can see common threads. The sense of maths potential in all, the ideas that maths has to be both conceptual learning and cementing that learning through rule and practice (compare this with the need to get 10 in a row right before moving on in the Khan Academy), the importance of previous learning as building blocks enabling the learner to solve more and more complex problems…again reflected in the approach that Khan and the Buttkicking thinkers seem to advocate.


  1. ajf29
    7 April 2016

    Brilliantly written Jane. However, I am not so pro Khan. Some ideas behind the website such as tracking students progress, seem good on one hand. But I can’t help but feel if the concept is used throughout schools it would take away from us as teachers. Heavily relying on premade content I think lacks imagination and creativity which us as teachers should have in abundance.

  2. Charli
    10 April 2016

    I’m also a big fan of the Khan Academy videos and use them myself. I agree that there is the possibility of the minority of students not using correctly spoiling it if it were to be used in the classroom as it was in the video. I do worry that this kind of use in the classroom could lead to ‘lazy’ teachers abusing the use of these tools and not using it to its full potential.

  3. fbontemps
    11 April 2016

    To be honest you’ve mentioned some good points and although I’m a little doubtful where Khan wants to go with all that, his videos are great and I can’t deny that. Personally, I smell business rather than teaching, are we ready to let our children thrive in a business environment?. Data can be falsified and cheating is possible (i.e. someone else can do their work instead and all the information would be wrong) and to what extent would the parents / guardians or teachers gauge the progress of the students? As long as the students are doing their work under their supervision that’s okay but is that something feasible? Perhaps, the only way to know or make a real judgement is giving Khan time.

  4. MZwiers
    11 April 2016

    I’d forgotton about the knowledge tree and agree with your comment. This links back to the article for me where it is suggested that concepts should be taught in a certain order to show their relationship. What I saw in school was that topics were taught for short periods and then a completely different topic was started which seemed very confusing to me. This way, links between topics were hardly adressed at all.

  5. pepsmccrea
    12 April 2016

    Brilliant! Loads of synthesis happening here. And some of the hypotheses you generate will be looked at in more detail in future tasks (ie. you’re onto something). Good to see you make connections with the Willingham article. Keep coming back to him – there’s a lot of value there

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