You were not born with two left feet – you just simply haven’t danced enough.
Sal Khan, a financier, introduces the on-line teaching tool, the ‘Khan academy’. With one million hits globally a month offering thousands of free mathematical videos, it is seen by many in the United States to be revolutionary. With celebrities such as Bill Gates backing the concept it is not surprising that Khan is seen by many as a ‘god’ in the teaching world.
Like Dan Meyers, Khan is using videos as a mathematical teaching tool. Because they are simple to create and easy to upload to the internet, they can capture a worldwide audience. I do feel we have to give credit to Khan for creating this huge platform for learning.
In my opinion the quality of the lectures is not amazing as most were based on an old fashioned ‘’do this now’’ teaching style. It almost seems as if Khan prides himself in his ‘non-preparation’ attitude towards his videos, hence there are mistakes within the teaching of the subject itself – not helpful for students and not a good role model for teachers.
Although I am uncertain of Khan himself, could the Khan academy concept be more beneficial on a smaller scale? I believe it can and this has been shown by Dan Meyers.
Dan Meyers, a teacher himself, is using videos within a classroom environment as an aid to his teaching, which is fantastic. As Willingham highlights, using relational approach (i.e. ‘why’ it works) in concert with some instrumental (i.e. ‘how’ it works) will be more successful. This is exactly what Meyers does. What Khan is doing however, in my opinion, is using low quality videos with lack of depth and understanding and minimising the classroom interaction between teachers and students. A minority of students could excel with this concept. However, I feel a lot more students may need that face to face interaction when learning. They will be unable to ask questions and for help from their teacher and peers and this is where a student could simply give up on a topic.
Willingham states that the ‘can’t do maths’ notion is a myth – it represents people who, somewhere along the line, have just given up on the subject. He believes that everyone is born with the ability to appreciate the concept of numbers and space. I couldn’t agree more, it is up to us teachers to stimulate our students to motivate them to study and learn a subject.
It is up to us to develop a student’s love for Maths in this modern age and using videos as an aid could help in this process.
Having looked at the video from ‘Train Ugly’, it is so true, people weren’t born with two left feet, they simply haven’t danced enough! People weren’t born bad at maths they simply have stopped learning. Let’s all learn from Dan Meyers (see bonus 2 – awesome idea) we can use modern technology in a revolutionary way within our classroom environments to give everyone that maths gene.