Khan Academy is getting a lot of press right now. Dan Meyer’s take seems to confirm a suspicion I’ve had for a while. Yes, technology and connectivity can do some pretty cool things for education (and if you read this blog you will know we are no Luddites), but repeated attempts to make the teacher no more than the ‘manager’ of the learning seem problematic to me.
Much of what is being said about ‘flipped’ classrooms seemed to point in that direction, and now Khan has said so explicitly.
The quote that struck me from Meyer’s post:
That seems about right. Learning is a communal activity (maybe that is exactly what scares some people). Some folks are true autodidacts, but most of us both enjoy and need real interaction to learn. That seems especially true of young people, who might not be wholly committed to the learning.
And in that context, I think there will always be a need for specialists who meld both the human community building aspect and the specialized knowledge/skills aspect. Those people would facilitate learning for groups of young people. I wonder what would be a good label for those people- oh, I know- lets call them TEACHERS!
So often ‘reform’ goes wrong not because it is ill intentioned, but because it fails to remember that learning is essentially a HUMAN activity, especially the sort of complex sophisitcated learning we claim we want our children to do these days. And at this point I have no reason to believe that it will happen well in an environment absent of human interaction, moderated and guided by people who know what the heck they are doing.
The rest of Meyer’s response is at: