This is Sal here. I wanted to respond directly on the author's page, but they seem to be having a problem taking comments.
The reason why I make history videos is that many people I know (many of whom are quite educated) don't even have a basic scaffold of world events in their minds (or the potential causality between events). Most American high school and college students would find it difficult to give even a summary of the Vietnam War or the Cuban Missile Crisis. Many of these people have sat through years of traditional history classes (taught through state-mandated books by "experts"). Even more worrying is many experts who have taken one side or another of a historical issue and view their viewpoints as facts (this is the tone of most history books).
If the author really watched my videos, he would see that I start most of them telling the listener to be skeptical of anything I tell them or anyone tells them; that no matter how footnoted something is, in the end it is dependent on people's accounts--the people who weren't killed--which are subject to bias (no matter how well-intentioned). Very few history books or professors do this. If anything, they create a false sense of certainty.
As for the "one voice" issue, I don't see how a guy making digestible videos that inform and encourage skepticism (on YouTube where anyone else can do the same) are more dangerous than state-mandated text books. I don't see how lectures that are open for the world to scrutinize (and comment about on YouTube and our site) are more dangerous than a lone teacher or professor who can say whatever they like to their classrooms with no one there to correct or dispute them.
Finally, there is nothing I would like to see more than other teachers/professors/experts adding their voice to the mix. Rather than wasting energy commenting on other people's work with pseudo-intellectual babble, why don't they produce their own videos and post them on YouTube? If someone can produce 20 videos that seem decent and want to do more as part of the Khan Academy, we'll point our audience at them. If our students respond, we'll figure out a way that they can potentially make it a career.
I don't need all the facts, but I do need an understanding of why certain historical events (or any other topic) are important. Having that latticework in my mind allows me to kickstart learning the details, and synthesizing all that information.
Criticism of various learning models will always be around. Its important to listen to it, but at the same time, these ideas are coming straight out of people's heads - about what they "think" is a better approach. On the other hand, Khan Academy's success is a direct function of its wide-spread adoption. If it didn't work as well as, if not better than, what people learn in a classroom, people simply wouldn't watch. Not only that, I'm sure feedback (positive and negative) from actual users is much more useful than from someone ingrained in the old model (and most likely views himself as teacher only, and not a learner).
I'm an avid user of the site and I see this all the time:
Sal- "In the last video, I seemed to have confused people about so and so.. let me clarify that now." The videos and site are developing iteratively, and they have data to understand what people need/having trouble with.
Please continue to teach in this manner. Anyone who grew into, and succeeded in an academic environment (as virtually all professors have) will not see how transformative KA is for people who do not learn that way.
Precisely! One of the things that appeals to me about your education model is its democracy. Anyone who wants to learn and commit the time for it is free and welcome to it.
The Education Profession has managed to create a number of gates and gatekeepers in an apparent attempt to control access to education and to control whom learns what. That model was somewhat shaken when the printing press was invented and then a little more with digital media and the internet. It maintains control through the accreditation business and the granting of degrees.
My kids have taken some online college courses and it appears that few traditional universities really understand how the make the most of online media, because those courses were so poorly conceived and executed. The Khan Academy is a stark and shining contrast to those.
A college degree remains, as the equivalent of yesteryear's high school diploma, the ticket to getting employed in many of the better jobs. It is my hope that someday there will be an open, free (or extremely low cost), accredited college degree program available to everyone who has access to internet!
I think it is awesome that a guy like Sal is the "rock star" of the future.
I have a Ba in history and agree with the criticism raised in the article, however I also think it is a problem that many people dont even have a basic scaffold of world events.
History is about making choices, what to say and what not to say, and the way to say it, it is not merely about being familiar with major world events. What is a major world event? Lets go with WW2 , then when you dig into WW2, what would you say is a major event? Fall of France, D-Day, Fall of Yugoslavia, or Stalingrad? Whatever you choose you exclude another event, your choices influences the further storytelling. You have to make choices.
The solution for this problem is very difficult, since you have to begin somewhere in your story-telling, and even when choosing where to begin you take a side. And that side is with you for the rest of the story telling.
History is not merely about events it is also about connecting dots, you can begin by choosing any event and really digging into it until you begin to see the wider picture. Going the other way around is far more difficult, when you attempt to give an overview of the wider picture. You get exactly what you would if you picked 2m wide brushes to draw on a wall.
My suggestion instead is to pick really small pencils and draw thinner lines, introduce the students to any event in world history and work out from there. Only then the students could enjoy seeing (and make themselves) the wider connections.
A teacher in a classroom faces the same problems as you (and more, imagine 20 teenagers), so dont worry about it. :)
Its interesting to see your reaction to the criticism, especially that of being defensive (understandable first reaction). But if you look at the article objectively there are a lot of opportunities it creates for Khan Academy to be even more impactful than what it is today.
You are certainly a great teacher, orator and have the understanding of math and finance. However, one person cannot be good at grasping, understanding and teaching ALL subjects. Thats where you have an opportunity to enlist the best the the brightest teachers from US to create videos for you on subjects they are most passionate about. Why not create a video contest to identify in a democratic way who are these top teachers??
Also, just to answer your point about a teacher's ability to put 20 video online rather than writing criticism. The thing is that you have already gained a lot of fame and respect for your work and its a very difficult thing to do. Its unreasonable to expect a teacher to gain the same level of viewership now like you have. Thats why I say that take the interest that you have developed around you to uplift other teachers to bring up education as a 'whole'.
Otherwise, Kahn Academy will remain a closet work... Just my two cents...
Thanks for doing what you do. I think you're exploring what will become a incredibly valuable piece of the puzzle, especially for those without the advantages of a western public school system.
I'm amazed at the breadth of subjects that you cover in your videos. Do you have to undertake a lot of research before covering a subject, particularly in math and science? Thanks for helping me get through Linear Algebra.
Thank you for all your hard work, we all appreciate it.
The real issue I come out with from that article is not the content of your courses but the danger of potentially having one uniform history curriculum for the whole world. You can still be the most unbiased and thorough teacher and this will still remain a real issue. The more subjective a subject, the more different ways it must be taught.
Unfortunately, time and attention are scarce. The best you can do is to impart the understanding that all historical accounts are biased, and balance that bias by encouraging your students to research opposite points of view on their own time.
I was taught both Haitian History from Haiti and from France almost at the same time when I was in school (I was in a French distance learning program in Haiti). The Haitian account was glorifying its heroes and the French account was attenuating the magnitude of the first successful Black revolution. I really appreciated your account of the Haitian revolution since your personal bias was much less impregnated in your video.
Don't stop doing what you are passionate about.
Of course I hope for the best, and expanding seems reasonable at this time.
Thank you for emphasizing this. It seems that some have forgotten that history is written by the victors.
I have many more than 20 videos made - but I find my students use them more frequently when they are created to coach them through specific problems. They use them as often as they visit me in office hours. I've also just completed a series of 35 videos for a textbook publisher that walk first year college students through very difficult chemistry problems that use multiple concepts. These are not short single topic videos so we will see how useful they are in practice. They are meant to help a chemistry student learn to think like a chemist and the jury is out as to whether that can be taught by video.
I would be happy to talk about helping with your effort in science, specifically in chemistry. I am sure there is much to be done and surprisingly, not that many working to create more content using this medium. A mix that can also provide real-time Q & A is particularly interesting. I can be reached at fletcher at uidaho dot edu. Here is an example of the kind of vid that students use to help them solve a specific problem: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=49k88Alfh88
The only thing novel about Khan Academy is accessibility. Its the same old teacher-centered lectures we've endured for the past hundred years, with a somewhat more charismatic instructor.
Most of the criticism I've seen of your work isn't "pseudo-intellectual babble," its merely pointing out what I've stated above, and that it isn't in line with what research tells us about how students learn. Your challenge for your critics to produce their own videos misses the point entirely.
I happen to think your videos are fine overall, and while I find some specific science content oversimplified and focus too much on mechanics rather than conceptual understanding, it serves very well for student review. For learning new content, however, I happen to believe that there is a better way.
Please view the video below:
Effectiveness of Science Videos
While you're there, consider his videos a part of your final challenge.
I am very interested in your thoughts about his approach to instructional videos.
You're entitled to your opinions. Our #1 priority is the millions of students who use our content and testify that it is measurably helping them. And to be clear, they aren't deluding themselves--read our comments and you'll see student after student using our content to rock any assessment thrown at them. The data we're seeing in pilot classrooms is showing students performing several grade levels ahead. We're seeing remedial students using Khan Academy software leap frogging non-remedial students. Very savvy school districts (with super demanding parents) that understand results are rolling us out on a district-wide basis.
As for conceptual understanding, this is what the Khan Academy is all about. We have multiple videos on proofs and conceptual understanding that are never touched on in most classrooms. I won't make a lesson unless I can explain the why and/or why it is intuitive.
As for your "research", what is it tangibly doing for students? Rather than talk, we think we should build, learn and iterate.
I simply ask you to watch the video, and respond to it. I think it makes valid points, and it agrees with the research I've read on how students learn (Available for free here: http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=10126).
If you truly want to build, and learn (which I certainly want to), don't flippantly dismiss critiques. Just because all forms of effective teaching don't go viral on YouTube doesn't mean that they're invalid.
I think all this criticism just further reiterates how amazing Khan Academy is. Truth is that their will never be an educational system that everyone thinks is perfect. We are all too unique and absorb information in different ways. The fact that people are talking about Khan Academy at this global scale is amazing and only further amplifies it's importance, last time I checked open source education doesn't generate too much press. So instead of seeking perfection, which is unattainable, we should focus more on actually doing the littles things to make knowledge more widespread.
To that end Khan Academy has no comparable peers. Critics can talk all they want about learning theory and this and that, but fact is that Khan Academy is really helpful to a lot of people.
If you think you see a flaw in Sal's approach and can do better, than just do it and we'll see if people like it. You're into education theory, great. Keep reading and writing about education. Sal Khan is into doing, into helping people learn so that they can improve their own lives. Kindly get out of his way.
The biggest flaw in the "Effectiveness of Science" (EoS) video is that it criticizes khanacademy videos by showing that vastly inferior videos don't work. Khan videos are good because they make it easy to think: there are no distractions, just a blackboard and an intelligent voice "in your head" guiding you through the problem domain. In the EoS video, the failing videos try to teach physics by featuring the face of a talking girl with a guy juggling in the background. He might as well give his subjects a physics book and turn them loose in a sports bar to study while following NCAA basketball. Neither method is a good one for learning physics. What's sad is that the maker of the EoS video is not just some crank on the internet, but apparently a newly minted PhD in education who will likely end up teaching teachers or running a school system and it's obvious that despite his vast "education" this guy has no clue how to recognize good teaching.
I have seen some of Khan's physics videos. I can tell you from years in the classroom, students exposed to those videos as an initial learning experience will change absolutely none of their misconceptions. None. Not one, no learning, just a warm feeling of thinking that they agree with what's been said (even though they don't agree with it at all).
Now can a student who has already addressed her misconceptions (in a classroom, by doing experiments, then discussing, arguing, trying to predict new situations and then trying those situations) gain some advantage by using the videos as review? Perhaps so, and I wouldn't fault a student for making this part of her review. It's more likely my students would end up gleefully eviscerating the video.
We created ShowMeApp.com exactly for this reason - so that any teacher can easily create these kinds of videos through the iPad and share them online.
Here's a guy who's done a ton of awesome Chemistry lessons: http://www.showmeapp.com/jr_orinion
We're huge fans what Sal is doing and would love to see more teachers embrace his approach.
We're still in beta, but I'd love to hear any feedback on the site and the app.
I think this problem can be generalized. There's a predisposition for lopsided development across intelligence domains. Like the cliche nerd that has the social intelligence of a rock and viceversa. Modern society re-enforces this tendency by rewarding people to specialize into increasingly narrower intelligence domains. This sort of tunnel vision bias just isn't sustainable in a modern democracy.
Using number of site visits to denote good teaching is very problematic. You might consider catching up on the work of the late Neil Postman for more on this.
That is a broad assertion on your part and one that I have yet to find true; esp. after meeting many former high schoolers in my college History classes.
You're absolutely right. Unfortunately, many other people do have a scaffold, a derelict one at best, provided to them through their politically tainted education and validated by their social systems.
I respect that at least you're making an attempt to enable people to stimulate their interests and seek out a more detailed education on those topics.
Instead of immediately discrediting the linked article because they're "haters" or "threatened", try reading it and understanding their point of view. I love Khan's work and what he's doing, but at the same time the article raises some valid points. You learn a lot more by examining both sides of a story than being a fanboi.
"Here Mr. Khan stands exposed as possessing a historical perspective steeped in academia’s standard issue, postmodern, left-leaning narrative of cultural relativism, multiculturalism, and moral equivalence. "
And in my mind the author is exposed.
I am hoping that my son grows up being taught by postmodernist that don't present history as fact but as I believe it is – a perspective.
I would rather that my son grasp a few things about history and don't get the exact dates or details right. That he understands what history is as much as he knows what went into it.
So in my mind the valid points you talk about are nothing but the authors own idea about mainly his own field which is history. In other words his own interpretation – how ironic.
I agree that Kahn probably shouldn't be teaching history and I am sure with time that will be changed. But to claim that he is dangerous is simply missing the grander scheme of things.
From my POV, the Khan Academy view of history described here is utter bunk and doesn't really give a good historical perspective. I'm shocked, shocked to hear that K-12 history is garbage!
K-12 history curriculum has always been garbage pushing somebody's agenda.
Until the 80's, high school history in the US was all about the "American Pageant", complete with a carefully crafted timeline of achievement and wonderfulness describing how wonderful the US was. You start out making pilgrim hats in second grade and learning about how the friendly indians taught the pilgrims to put dead fish around corn as a fertilizer, and wrapped up talking about how great WW2 was. (Usually we ran out of time for Korea and Vietnam when I was in school)
From the 70's onward, "revisionists" changed the curriculum a bit to demonstrate that people other than white folks existed. For me, that meant in the winter you spent less time covering the gilded age and watched "Shaka Zulu" or "Roots" instead and in the Spring you learned about the civil rights movement. I grew up in New York City, so we were also mandated to learn about the potato famine and the triangle shirtwaist fire.
AP History was an eye-opener to me. You actually had an opportunity to leave the drivel behind and learn about something in depth from primary and secondary sources. (In my case, the American Revolution)
I bear no illusions that history writing is agenda free. But the stories of the white where no less relevant or important, they just needed to be mixed with other perspectives.
And that is to me what history is. Perspective. There are no right or wrong perspectives. There are simply perspectives trying to describe to the best of their vantage point.
This sort of claim is vulnerable to a popular philosophical dilemma: the more plausibly you interpret it, the less interesting it is; the more interesting an interpretation you give it, the less plausible it seems. (The tl;dr version of this argument is "vacuous or false".)
Here's a plausible interpretation of what you might mean: everyone puts their own spin on things, and no view of history is completely unbiased. This is very likely to be true, but it's also not very interesting. Everyone is likely to agree with it.
Here's a radical and interesting interpretation of what you might mean: all historical statements are completely perspectival; no perspective is more valid or more likely to be true than another; there is no way to choose among perspectives; all perspectives are equally valid. Now that's a bold, interesting claim. It's also preposterous.
Consider: two people arguing blame about WWI. One person laying all the blame on Germany. The other laying quite a lot of the blame on France. Well and good. Now a third enters. He lays all the blame for WWI (and the Great Depression to boot) on the Alpha Centaurions who (secretly) invaded our planet in 1912. These are all perspectives. Are they really equally valid? Are we unable to choose between them? Be careful how you answer: if you say, "Well facts are facts, but when I say 'history' I mean interpretations of those facts only..." That will only push your problems one step back. Are even all interpretations equally valid? Do you really believe that?
If I had to guess, you're aiming for the radical end (based on how you defended your original post), but I'm not really sure. There's a lot of room between these two poles. Would you care to elaborate your view?
You can then choose to make it absurd by including Alpha Centaurions. And then sure it's vulnerable.
But then shouldn't you first find someone who would actually claim that and then perhaps even more importantly have people believe it to be true?
In my world facts are provincial and most things we can agree on. There could be someone who claimed like the third person but they would have very little to back that claim up.
That doesn't mean that they couldn't be right, just like claims of gods existence could be true. I am just not very likely to take them serious (but others might for whatever reason they have)
I would rather live in a world where some people believe in the third story than live in a world where everyone only believes in the first.
With all due respect, you're missing my point. My point is that the quote doesn't speak for itself. It leaves all the really hard questions unanswered.
Here are some of the hard questions that I have in mind:
1) Are any statements concerning history not perspectival? (If so, why and what kind or kinds? If not, wow: not even (putatively) factual statements like 'World War I broke out in the year 1914'?)
2) If historical statements are so deeply perspectival, how do we rank or otherwise evaluate competing statements about history? If we don't rank or evaluate them at all, how do we form coherent sets of beliefs about the past (which many people appear to do)? How do people manage to choose between conflicting claims? How should they choose?
3) Are all statements about history equally valid? If so, does this run the risk of meaning that all statements about history are equally 'invalid'? If not, why not?
4) Are historical statements especially perspectival or are all statements of belief (period) perspectival? If historical statements are especially perspectival, why? If not - if everything anyone states is completely perspectival - wow. Again, that's a big claim.
Yes, my argument used a reductio ad absurdum, but I wan't trying to make your claim absurd. That is, I truly meant to take it seriously: seriously enough to dispute, to ask questions about and to discuss. Saying that all historical claims are perspectival is a big claim. I was genuinely asking you to clarify what you meant.
But my basic believe is that facts are true in context. Relative not objective. Facts (reductional interpretations of reality) are described from the vantage point of the observer. We can experience what we call reality in a certain way but not in all possible ways.
And that is all fine and good. We don't need true, just useful.
2) We evaluate them within the different clusters we live in. There are people who believe that holocaust never happened. There are people who believe that 9/11 was orchestrated by the US. Most people though believe the same things. World War I broke out in the year 1914.
That does not by any metrics mean that that is a true statement. You could very well argue that it broke out way before that. Cause I take it you agree that people didn't wake up one day in the year 1914 and thought, let's have a war.
The coherent sets of beliefs used to be mainly cultural now they'r exposed on the internet. And people form around various perspectives. So you have clusters of perspectives. That is why you have what seem to be agreement on those perspectives.
That is why there aren't anyone claiming that the Alpha Centaurions secretly invaded the planet to initiate I or II WW. It could be true but there is nothing factual (and again I refer you to 1) ) to construct that belief.
There are however many other conflicting and competing view. Less about the factual parts (D-Day) more about the meaning of that day. The factual parts are not really that interesting and they are certainly not important. Only to the people who actually where around at that time.
As long as you know that it happened 6 June 1944 +- a couple of days or months (with time and as the people who lived at that time dies, the accepted +- span will grow ever bigger) you are ok.
3) Again you are confusing two things here. There are factual statements (that might or might not be true and again I refer you to 1) and then there is the interpretation of these facts. I am more concerned with the latter part than the first.
4) There is nothing big in that claim. I would be happy to discuss this further but not here. Kuhn, Lakatos, Feyrabend have all done a fairly good job at describing some of the problems with believing in objective truths. I have my own views. We can discuss but then we should find a place to take it. Hmm maybe there is even a small side project idea there.
3) Interpretation is also based on what you can back up. I can interpret "There are no aliens in Roswell New Mexico" to mean "There are DEFINITELY aliens in Roswell New Mexico". However, without some kind of proof behind that interpretation see number 1. A bad working model of the territory makes a bad map. Also, the claim that facts are neither interesting nor important is false and dangerous.
Death is not the only interpretation of the carbon based structure that is now smeared on to the front of the steel construction
On the other hand, if anyone is looking to read history written from a dispassionate, objective point of view, I heartily recommend "100 Decisive Battles from Ancient Times to the Present".
The choice of which facts to include, moreover, represents a fairly strong bias; it says that this set of facts is more interesting or important or whatever than most other sets, and enough so that you should ignore all the other sets for the moment and just look at this set.
Which, in the case of this particular book, presumably, along with the countless choices about which facts to include about each battle, also includes at least a) the choice of which 100 battles, and b) the choice that battles of any kind are important enough to talk about for a whole book.
So even if the author tries to stay away from expressing an agenda on the usual axes, I doubt he successfully avoids having one altogether.
History is full of examples of a small force overwhelming a large force against all odds, and I love reading about the clever tricks and twists of fate that made it possible. The fact that the outcome of each battle completely shifted the course of history is an added source of awesomeness.
Sure, Sputnik 1 and Sputnik 2 were landmarks. But they would have happened eventually --- whether Russia or America did it first seems little more than a silly contest of the times.
But when you read the above book and realize that "Europe, as we know it today, would be completely and utterly different if, thousands of years ago, this one person had not made the monumentally stupid decision of keeping his army awake all night" .... well, that seems to me what makes history so interesting, no?
Any interpretation of historical observations is analogous to a scientific theory like gravity. It may fit the observations or not, and we can use Occam's to winnow the likely from the unlikely. The only bummer is that observations are generally not reproducible as in the hard sciences.
(In case its not clear, I'm mostly agreeing with you. :)
“Mr. Khan stands exposed as possessing a historical perspective steeped in academia’s standard issue, postmodern, left-leaning narrative of cultural relativism, multiculturalism, and moral equivalence.”
And then this:
“In a sense, that’s what Internet personalization filters are already doing, creating an echo chamber where we only hear what we already believe. We can’t think about what we’ve never heard of.”
And here I thought coherence was always a fashionable accessory.
Right now, it looks like you're saying that the first quote's adjectives describe a meta-viewpoint that need not be examined as a viewpoint in and of itself.
I might have read too much and falsely concluded that the author is against Khan’s “historical perspective steeped in academia’s standard issue, postmodern, left-leaning narrative of cultural relativism, multiculturalism, and moral equivalence.” The OP might be neutral about that, and simply exposing the necessity of balancing Khan’s against a different narrative¹. If so, either his articulation was obfuscated by the choice of words or I need to practice my English a lot.
¹. Never mind the fact that this rarely occurs in real classrooms.
Instead he chose to bash a popular figure. Probably because it gets hits on his blog, but who knows, I'm cynical.
There are multiple and various reasons for studying history, whether this is articulated clearly in everyone's mind or not. Establish a baseline cultural past, instill moral values (ex. glorifying Person X's accomplishments), predict future results of actions, and entertainment are reasons that also spring to mind just off the top of the mind.
If history is being taught simply to teach decision-making skills, then using a case study format would be one possible way to improve the current teaching methods.
You missed the bigger picture of the article, which is that a single entity never should control re-telling of events. There should not be one perspective. One person, one entity, can not provide different perspectives, due to echo chamber effects and such, it is almost impossible.
I agree with him; these look like "make me look not stupid in casual conversation" lessons, they don't seem to impart a real understanding of history, of these major events and what impact they have on the present world.
Who even remembers operation Market Garden or why it was significant?
Does anyone even know why and how bombing of metropolitan centers even started? Of course not! Easier to say goodies vs baddies and forget the details.
History is already taught without any useful context in school. It's rendered so dry and boring and detached from humanity that I'm surprised ANY learning happens at all.
Khan is doing very high level, very loose connections at the moment which, I'll admit, contain even less information than the school system pulp. However, I'd be interested in seeing how deep he goes with subsequent videos before passing judgment.
I have yet to take a college level history course, so I probably have errors.
- The US Forces battle terrorist extremists to bring peace to the country, remove lethal weapons and pave the way for the first western-style democratic election.
- After decades of war, in which two world powers, Russia and America, secretly sent arms and weapons to the country to fight their proxy wars, and then America bringing their own troops in, the natives now use those same weapons to try and defeat the invader and preserve their traditions.
How else could it possibly be presented? Could you elaborate on what you mean when you say that history is "a perspective"? Can one change history simply by deciding to view it differently, somehow?
It's filtered through secondary sources that are never completely reliable, and there is information lost because people die without telling anyone what they saw or did, or there's confusion, or, in war, the winner's perspective is presented as the only facts.
In the US, the obvious example is the history of the west, and the natives of North America. It was once viewed as the bringing of civilization to savages for their own good. Now its viewed as genocide. Because its being viewed from a different perspective.
Here's an example: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stockholm_Bloodbath#Christian_t...
Without question, one changes history by deciding to view it differently. If it didn't work that way, we'd only need one history book and we'd be done.
Having acknowledged the limitations of the historian's knowledge, though, the question is what do you do next? A good historian will use the fact that he can't divorce himself from his own viewpoint as a reminder to be extremely cautious. A bad one will use it as an excuse to indulge his particular biases.
One man's freedom fighter is another man's terrorist. Criminals often think they're justified in the actions they take; in fact, often they must self-justify their own actions in order to sleep at night at all, so they will have their own internally consistent narratives. It's extremely difficult to fight the dominant narrative once it has become accepted.
IMO, the highest value history has is in telling stories about a world which is different from our own, but for which we have somewhat believable evidence actually existed. The degrees to which it is different tell us what varies in human nature, and what stays the same, stays the same. It teaches us to not take the present moment too seriously as some kind of apex or nadir. But I don't think it actually tells us a whole lot about the past, per se.
And a very bad one will pretend that he is being value-neutral and objective, and show no attentiveness to the interpretative nature of his work.
I'd say this is also true in the broader sense of how a person chooses to live in an inherently muddled world. You can take obstacles and confusion as a call to action and vigilant reflection, or you can use them as an excuse for giving up and accepting mediocrity.
The problem is trying to determine what is objective fact - you often end up relying on witness statements, some of which will be lies or misremembered. And then you have to decide which facts are "most important", which events were the prime causes of a second event.
Unfortunately there is an unquestionably large amount of perspective and subjectiveness in history.
The goal is not to determine what is objective fact. There is no such thing, not even in natural sciences such as physics. Dont forget that.
I'm not sure where you're going with that; follow that line of thought too far and you end up with solipsism.
Practically speaking, sure there are objective facts. The properties of mechanics and electromagnetism are facts, or close enough for everyday purposes. What happens when you throw a ball or turn on a light is not a cultural construct.
re: history, sure, no person has the Pure Truth, and any history reflects the viewpoint of its author(s). It's still useful to distinguish between things that happened and things that didn't happen.
For instance, World War II did not begin when Queen Mab, having been cast out of the Garden of Eden by Shiva, built a clone army in her underground fort in Antarctica then invaded Loompaland. That simply didn't happen.
It seems to me that there are objective facts; we just can't know them perfectly. Still, it's very useful to try to get an approximation.
This often means that perspectives from less influential / marginalized groups are downplayed or even ignored.
Much of postmodernist history is about recognizing that this always happens and that there are always multiple perspectives to a historical event.
Historical study can reveal a lot about the contradictions of ideology, the gap between political rhetoric/narrative vs reality. For this reason it can be a very politically charged topic. But even boring (to outsiders) topics are hotly contested—historical study is not ultimately the cataloging of facts, is it about the analysis of change in complex systems over time.
It's often the case that history is not repeated as a mere sequence of events, but also as an interpretation as to _why_ those events occurred, and how factors at the time contributed to their occurrence.
Maybe we can admit that their is then also an element of conditioning to history as well as one of 'fact'?
What scares me about postmodernism is that many of its adherents seem to reject the idea of objective truth completely. That way madness lies.
To magnify, the world as experienced by a single-cell organism is vastly different from the world you or I experience.
No doubt there is "something", but it is the height of human arrogance to believe that our version of that "something" is the correct one.
This is exactly what a person needs to get right - the Chronology. Otherwise things do not make any sense.
For instance these facts:
Fact: The U.S. dropped two Nuclear bombs on Japan.
Fact: Japan became the largest debt holder for the U.S.
..can be misconstrued to say something that did not occur, such as, "The U.S. dropped bombs on japan so they did not have to pay back their debt to them."
Now I know this is an extreme example, but the reasoning is the same. History is a study of facts that occurred; who, what, where - chronology provide the "why".
For the record, I like the Khan Academy and they do a lot of good; but I still think that's really unfair to say that given that the article brings up a really important point (regardless of its style of writing): Khan Academy history lessons are so abbreviated, that key, important points and figures in history are skipped. Why is this not good? One of the major key reasons we study history is so that major mistakes of the past are not repeated in the present or future. Now this is an extreme example that no Khan like outlet actually does, but what if they skipped over Jim Crowe laws in their history of the US?
Going on somewhat of a tangent, reading this article reminds me of this TED talk about filter bubbles.
Essentially Khan Academy and other ventures like it, may be inadvertently creating dangerous filter bubbles.
With that said, one of the things I still prefer about Khan's lectures, even abbreviated ones like these stated, is that I can pause them at any time, and look up the Japanese oil embargo. And start right back up where I left off in the video. With live lectures at best you can take a note of it, and look it up later, but then other facts that build upon this in the lecture are missed -- and you may not even know that you missed them.
And yet we learn nothing from history even when we know what is considered factual.
The things we learn from history that are important become implicit part of our culture, our DNA not our curriculum.
How does it become part of our culture if it's not part of our curriculum? Given my own personal tastes (when I was a child), I would have skipped everything in history except for WWI, and WWII. Even with WWI and WWII, I probably would have only focused on the battles and not the social issues if given the chance. I wouldn't have learned about things like the Trail of Tears, the Japanese Internment camps in Hawaii, and so on.
You will naturally learn your countries history albeit not to the point where you can become a history professor but it's not the end of the world.
History is perspective it can't be anything but perspective. There is no right or wrong teaching in history. Only survivors to tell the tales.
How can you even write that? That statement is just so ridiculous as to befuddle belief. There are history books in existence written with deliberate lies mean to indoctrinate people in certain ways. Are you saying that these books are no different from other books that have no lies inserted? Are you saying that books that don't incorporate newly discovered evidence about the past aren't more complete than books which don't?
Yes, it's true that we have to account for the unreliable narrator, but to then say that we must abandon all attempt at objectivity with regard to history is absurd! There is so much one can do to mitigate the problems of an unreliable narrator and when we can't mitigate it entirely (most of the time,) we can always express our margin of error. True, there will always be some degree of uncertainty but the purpose of studying history is to decrease that degree of uncertainty.
No matter what history book you read it is excluding more things than it is including. That doesn't mean that you can't say factual wrong things. But the perspective of a history book can never be without an agenda nor without a perspective.
How? Through video game blockbusters like Call of Duty or summer movie hits like Saving Private Ryan?
How is Call of Duty different than a soldiers account of how a battlefield looked like? They are after all consulting soldiers.
I am not talking about learning historical facts but about growing up in a culture that has a memory of a past. Things that naturally flows between people.
I knew of 2nd world war before I had history, I knew of JFK before I had history. And I am Danish.
Simple. It throws out a lot of the context and details of how we got to the meat grinder in the first place. It's traded for eye candy and emotion. All an individual with little background in the subject would know is that - these are the good guys over here and the bad guys over there.
> I knew of 2nd world war before I had history,
That's no surprise. Almost every kid enjoys anything with guns and bullets.
Having superficial knowledge of something is very different from getting a decent understanding of it. It's like knowing that Martin Luther was some guy who nailed a piece of paper to a door because he was angry with Catholicism, without understanding the details and background to how he got to the point and its future implications on the world.
Between a WWII veteran's personal account of the battles and playing CoD, which one would you pick? If you pick the veteran's account, you know that Call of Duty trivializes war. There is a difference.
I don't think it trivializes war.
Also during dinners at family table, chit-chats, watching TV news, reading newspapers, magazines, visiting museums, etc.
I disagree with Josh that this thread demonstrates HN groupthink (I actually found the comments to be pretty well balanced). But your comment demonstrates a fallacy that is very prevalent on HN, which is that every bit of source material has to be judged in HN's context, and anything that isn't suitably lawyered up and deferential is automatically faulty. The world is a pretty boring place when it provides nothing to stimulate your thoughts and, yes, disagree vehemently with.
The OP's point is that hn is a discussion forum, which is most effective when the discussions are somewhat balanced. But since the Kahn Academy is a darling of this forum, this article is here just to be knocked down, and anyone not joining in is likely to be downvoted. That makes hn less valuable.
You can argue that covering WWII to Vietnam in 15 minutes is just mission impossible. But the way it's described in that article does raise concerns.
I think this is a _much_ bigger issue in classrooms. I've had many instructors and professors at my university skip over the details. Because (1) they assume we know it already, (2) they are too lazy to discuss or write it, (3) there is not enough time.
Khan does an excellent job teaching in his math videos. Almost never have I felt like my questions weren't answered by him. He probably thinks as a beginner would and tries to make it as simplified as possible. He writes down everything. Even uses different colours for different concepts. Why? I don't know, maybe he wants to make sure his viewers benefit from his work. A classroom teacher couldn't care less, they still get paid at the end of the day.
So, while this article might itself be a little breathless, I think it's valid criticism that glossing over History is unforgivable.
However, this approach to history and other topics can be a problem. While some of the criticism is somewhat overblown, it is valid. Distilling history and other social sciences down, to the degree that Khan does is very hard to do properly, and likely to introduce all sorts problems into the mental model of history the viewer has.
It's not a case of "taking sides" or whatever. But, if the Academy really does want to be "the classroom of the world", then it -should- go into enough detail to build accurate mental models. How much stuff do you think people learn in a classroom, and never have a chance to "relearn". How many incorrect mental models are formed, and then never corrected until catastrophe. The responsible thing to do, if attempting to be come the classroom of the world is to realize that if they are successful, then for many people, the Academy will be their sole source of information for some topics (as in, not the only source of information, but the only source that they go to), and teach accordingly. Either have the lesson be able to provide an accurate and correct mental model, or make the learner explicitly aware that what they are learning is incomplete/unprecise/whatever.
Khan does the latter, it is called an overview. I think this aspect of the original critic's article displayed his lack of understanding of an incremental and iterative approach. If we waited until he had completed every lecture on history, we'd never have any. Given the current state, and even considering the future state, it is nonsensical to judge it on the basis of being the "sole source" of information on a subject.
The second bad assumption is that Khan's work is somehow inferior to other high school teachers' presentations of the subject. In my experience, at a high school frequently referred to as the best in the US, we barely even made it through the Vietnam war, and the "mental model" presented was merely a random collection of facts.
If only this author could see the average high school history teacher in action, he would be demanding that they stop teaching kids to glue garbage on a piece of poster board and teach his version of the subject. The difference with Khan is that it's all out there. He's open for review, and the videos can be improved.
It is an overview, but absurdly condensed. A skill like calculus can be thought in brief, clear overviews; you either understand _it_ or you don't.
History is no such _it_.
And yet few historically literate people understand the intimate workings of the alliance system prior to WW1 - but it is a vital piece of background information that explains a lot about what happened.
In my view, "the great powers had alliances and went to war to support one another" sums it up reasonably well, despite ignoring viral things like the 1839 Treaty of London, etc.
For someone studying post-Vietnam US history (say), I think the Kahn summary might be a reasonable background. Probably not sufficient in itself, but reasonable.
The idea of 'overview' I have in mind is similar to how mipmapping and LOD works in video games/computer graphics.
I don't think this contradicts Matt's point, since the history classes he took were likely better than average for the US, but I feel he was overstating the quality of them.
We have no context about the video here. Is it for 4th graders? High schoolers? For me, elementary school consisted of brief snippets of historical events (Christopher Columbus discovered America. Indians and settlers got along and had Thanksgiving), while high school consisted mostly of un-learning all of the stuff that they got wrong in elementary school (Columbus was actually a failure! Oh, native Americans hated us).
I don't think you can expect somebody getting their feet wet in history to pay attention to or care about historical subtleties.
My daughter's history class this year did not focus on dates at all. It didn't even really focus on facts. Instead, it focused on why events were taking place, what the impacts of those events were, and why that is important to understand today. This is the way to teach history, but it's a lot harder because it requires interpretation.
Fact is, Khan's videos are considered good because the actual history education that most students take away from classrooms is even worse. Like most other subjects, that's what you get when you try to deliver a comprehensive, objective, detail-oriented education to students who (within a small margin of error) couldn't give a shit. Never mind the Bolsheviks or the timeline -- what percentage of randomly sampled American high school graduates would even know that there was a Russian Revolution if you asked them?
If we can replace zero history with a fifteen-minute-chunk version of history, I'm for it.
Yes, that's what I was thinking. The stuff the author quotes sounds bad, but probably better than you'd get from some teachers I had.
Plus on the Internet kids can watch these videos at any age. His simplified version of history could be way better than what e.g. an 8 year old might otherwise have access to.
I've had four different eight-year-olds in my household, while living in two different countries, over the years, and any eight-year-old who is literate can find better information about history than what's in the current Khan Academy videos in any country where there is a public lending library. There is the issue, of course, of some students not having access to libraries, but there is also the issue of some students not having access to the Internet. In the best case, Salman Khan will implement his plan of having subject matter experts who have specialized knowledge of various topics (gained, in part, from their years of using libraries assiduously) produce a broader array of Khan Academy videos, and curious eight-year-olds will go beyond both Khan Academy and their school lessons by seeking out other sources of information on a variety of subjects. That's what I encourage my four children to do. Khan Academy is one of a huge variety of sources we use in homeschooling. In my day, as a pupil in a typical public school, I avidly supplemented my school lessons by reading library books. If Khan Academy is part of encouraging more young learners to be more curious and to seek out a greater variety of sources for their learning, more power to it.
For mathematics, all of the material is broken down into the very basic components, so it's easy for a video to have a set of prerequisites which any viewer should understand before watching (with a set of links to the videos corresponding to those prerequisites).
For a subject like history, the material can't easily be broken down. As the article points out, a statement like "as you can imagine, Japan did not produce a lot of its own oil" may be common sense to someone of high-school age, but an 8-year old may have no understanding of how oil is produced or where it comes for and the statement may make no sense. This doesn't render KA as dangerous or useless, just points out a problem which needs to be solved and which they are certainly aware of :).
Better for people to know that they don't understand history, then to wrongly think they do know it. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.
For a pilot of a Boeing 747, yes, it is. For an eight year old learning history, a little knowledge is probably the very best first-step on the path to a lot of knowledge.
Are there no libraries? I believe that if you are truly self motivated enough to learn US history on your own (which is what the Khan academy is supposed to do), you'd be better off actually looking up a syllabus online and reading about the topics yourself.
A 15 minute summary of US history between World War II and Vietnam can only create the illusion of understanding, which I would argue is indeed worse than zero history (a factoid I find highly debatable).
To me, it goes back to the goal of the Khan academy: is this meant for pop culture consumption, or more in-depth knowledge?
How does reading the diary of Ann Frank compare to Khan's video?
So, watch a video, read a book, read a bunch of books. None of this stuff is mutually exclusive. Rather, I would say its complementary.
At that point, it's just a game of 'guess the password'. http://lesswrong.com/lw/iq/guessing_the_teachers_password/
The first half of this article makes a reasonably convincing case that Mr. Khan is a much worse history teacher than math tutor. The second half of the article makes a totally convincing case that the author understands the Internet worse than Khan understands anything.
I guess in his nightmare scenario the "algorithms of the Internet" will one day cause everyone's web-browsers to redirect every request to one of Mr. Khan's fizzy history lectures where he just glosses right over the moral infallibility of the US, the inherent superiority of western culture, and the fact that Jesus died for your sins. The same algorithms will doubtless prevent the author from creating his own history videos clarifying those topics for people. After all, Mr. Khan appeared on Charlie Rose!
Quotes from this article:
"Mr. Khan stands exposed as possessing a historical perspective steeped in academia’s standard issue, postmodern, left-leaning narrative of cultural relativism, multiculturalism, and moral equivalence"
"A MoveOn.org liberal,..."
This article can be safely ignored, including the author's other article about how "Online education should serve as a home for orphaned liberal arts and "boutique" courses."
There are actually more substantive and constructive criticisms of the Khan Academy out there. But ultimately, we should make sure we don't ignore the great parts of it, either. After all, one guy recording screencasts and sharing them on youtube has helped millions of students now with understanding and doing math and other topics. With no budget and no formal training.
Imagine if we had 1000 or 10,000 Salman Khan's teaching the public online, with perhaps a little more pedagogical content knowledge (http://www.tpck.org/tpck/index.php?title=Pedagogical_Content... ), and using other tools in addition to just video (simulations, assessments, etc.).
Wow, that -is- dangerous. He might teach children to think for themselves or something!
As for the Skinner Box, the internet is anything but. Yes, you tend to only see things you want to, etc... But there is nothing stopping you from seeing other things, and most sites will step out of your comfort zone quite a lot.
They honestly believe that somehow Khan's videos could become the -only- resource for learning about history. Not a chance.
The fact that he doesn't provide -everything- has a plus side in my book: It forces them to seek out more information if they want to have an opinion.
I heard Khan say recently on the Colbert Report that he read the Wikipedia article on the French Revolution as his source before making his video on the subject.
That's fine for his purposes, but somewhere up the information food chain someone must actually read the sources, weigh them, interpret, compare, and do all the other work of understanding and transmitting history. It's hard to imagine that those 'educated' by Khan can take up this work, or if they do, that by the time they become competent, they will regard his videos as anything other than inconsequential in their effort.
However, I do think it's overblown to say that Khan is any more dangerous than Cliff's notes or similar supposed shortcut to education. And I suspect his math and finance videos might be quite good, based on the response, and on the fact that he actually spent time in school learning math and finance. (But I haven't watched them.)
It's a starting point. A good starting point is more important than is usually realized. The start Khan gives, you can now do in-depth research into the history to flesh it out. Without a good overview to start with, you can quickly get bogged down in the details and lose all interest.
Lord knows that's how history classes were for me. They'd pick 1 tiny piece of it and give you way too much information to process and remember, then move on to the next and ignore the previous info completely... Until the test.
A good overview would have let things settle a bit before getting into the details.
You may want to try watching a few first. Based on the amount of praise Khan received on HN, I had high hopes. So I did watch a few, and I was disappointed. I'm not sure what I was expecting.
I think on HN a lot of people love the concept of online education that Khan represents, but many have not bothered to seriously try it.
Back when I was teaching, I know many of my students found Khan more understandable than me (or at least complementary to me). I started encouraging everyone to go watch Khan videos and see if they liked them. Many did, and learned quite a bit from them.
I didn't like Khan that much - his style didn't work well for me. But it worked for many people. It's a lot to expect a single lecturer to be perfect for everyone.
What would be really great is if we had multiple Khans, each teaching in different styles.
That isn't to say (and I don't think Sal would say this either) that Khan Academy is the end-all of the new online education. Far from it. But it gives students a new opportunity for easy-to-access lectures, and it gives teachers a new paradigm on the "classroom experience". Check out Sal's TED talk for more on that (http://www.ted.com/talks/salman_khan_let_s_use_video_to_rein...).
As an MBA student, I was a tutor and mentor for local middle-school students, and for some there was the sense that school and education had passed them by. They either weren't interested in learning, or their teachers had given up on them, or their family life wasn't currently conducive to learning. Knowing all the details to Conic Sections, understanding discount rates, or the French Revolution isn't what is crucial for them. Having a learning experience they can control and interact with is what is most important. Khan's videos are by definition eternally patient, and will even wait for you to look something up in Google or on Wikipedia before continuing. There is no shame involved here - only learning. To criticize Sal Khan is a real shame. For a society of scholars to do it is absolutely wrong in my eyes. Good for you Sal, and good luck!
On the other hand—what does this have to do with pretty much anything else? I think it's not a stretch to see how every deficiency displayed there can be directly derived from a lack of familiarity with the material. Do you really need to try to make the overheated claim that being waffly with facts and simplistic with the human narrative is the result of an academia-enforced political and epistemological philosophy? Mr. Khan isn't exactly saying, you know, 'As we learn from a cursory reading of Baudrillard, the concept that the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in any meaningful, substantial way is clearly a fiction of the necessities of realpolitik.' He's just fudging it. Mr Clemens continues to spiral outward, proposing a grim reality where all our education is mediated through Facebook and thus (because of the nature of Facebook's algorithms at the moment) through political conformity, confirmation bias, and groupthink—which results in Mr. Khan's own pernicious beliefs being beamed, unopposed, into the minds of our modern youth. All this from “from FDR’s point of view, Hitler definitely was in the wrong here” and a reference to _Saving Private Ryan_.
Mr Clemens should have restricted his aim to a more manageable and germane topic: the unfortunate fiction that we can teach history, or anything else, by reading out loud from the textbook, or by stringing together a sequence of pictures of famous people. Teaching is hard, and many people in lecture halls and seminars all across this great nation do it poorly every day. Unfortunately, when it comes to World War II, Mr. Khan is a member of their ranks. I'm not sure that Bill Gates' neoliberal plans for a New World Order history course necessarily enter into it.
It's an important objection. There is a real tendency towards laziness among human begins and an easy availability of a simplified history could discourage people from deeper study. A simplified history from only one viewpoint is even worse. But I think he's pointing the finger in the wrong direction. Wikipedia is already a far greater threat on that matter and their are plenty of simplified versions of history available, some even taught in schools. Sal is only example of this (and possibly a product as the author alludes.) The proper solution would be more, and more in depth videos from other perspectives. I know some people who might be willing to do just that...
My experience with education is that for most of the time, we are being taught 'the form', not 'the contents'. It was after I've watched SICP video lectures that I finally understood many computer science concepts that I was being taught (read: forced to memorize for the exam) at university and even in high school.
I strongly believe in what Einstein said: "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough." If Khan can summarize almost entire XX century into a 15-minute talk while staying correct with the facts, then that's great. It's what we call a 'high level overview'. It might be not sufficient, but it's a good start, as it constructs a skeleton which makes the details stick easier in our brains.
What do you think the learner's responsibility is in the educational process? I am a teacher, and I do attempt to provide both big-picture ideas and detailed supporting facts and examples as I teach my students. (I try to elicit a lot of those from my students themselves, with a discussion format with lots of questions and answers as I present new concepts.) But I would hate to be in the position of my high school American history teacher, who was frequently interrupted by one of my classmates who would ask, "How am I supposed to write that down in my notes?" When I was in university studies, I read a very interesting book called Speaking and Listening
(It may be this book on Google Books, but I am not completely sure:
as it has been a long time since I read the book)
in which I learned about the style of note-taking that many people call "Cornell notes"
in which it is the note-taker's responsibility to sum up what the lecture means and what the main points are. Taking that approach was very helpful for me in my university studies and especially in my postgraduate professional school studies. I think Einstein too would agree
that ultimately it is up to the learner to seek understanding of the main points of any subject.
I don't think we should assume that learner has any responsibility in educational process - at least not when talking about kids. Keep in mind that from their perspective it looks more like them being locked up in classroom against his will, and it's only up to school to try not to kill his interest in the world around him.
I agree that if a learner cares enough to actually think about what was told on the lecture - to come up with his own understanding, to summarize on his own, etc. he will benefit greatly. One can't really understand anything without doing some mental work on his own.
If we talk about mature learners, than yes - they have a big responsibility in the educational process and they take it (sometimes in spite, not because of their tutor). But still, we can help them by conveying our ideas well. And it is especially important when dealing with children, as they don't give a damn about anything until proven interesting. It's actually quite understandable. Because, well, why should they care?
If this is representative of the type of person against the Khan Academy, I'm for it even more.
I've been studying Egyptology for about 6 years now and it's amazing what perspectives have changed in that time. We're even starting to see stories now that are challenging the "Out of Africa" theory. Whenever I hear a teacher/lecturer describe something historical as fact, it makes me cringe because so much is left to interpretation.
Khan doing history in this manner is dangerous. But at the same time, the ways our schools do history is dangerous as well. Presenting singular perspectives and presenting them as fact only breeds misinformation.
I believe khan academy is superb for math and sciences, especially for quick overviews of concepts. But the format is absolutely terrible for presenting historical topics. Understanding history requires reading from many resources and coming to logical conclusions. A copy/paste job from wikipedia is simply pathetic.
Well, there's your problem. If you concern yourself primarily with US History, as Khan does (and declares what he is doing), you're going to necessarily ignore a lot of non-US perspectives, like, y'know, Leningrad, Churchill, the rape of Nanking, Japan's lack of oil reserves, the whole bit. The real question is not whether Mr. Khan did a poor job of explaining US History, it is whether the idea of teaching "$country history", when we concern ourselves primarily with foreign affairs as Mr. Khan does, whether focusing on the actions of $country in an era of global politics gives a skewed and ultimately inaccurate perspective. The answer to that should be a rather obvious 'yes'...
I do doubt however that Mr. Khan truly hopes to achieve or at least does not really believe that he can achieve a monopoly in education. Perhaps his format will be copied but I doubt his lectures themselves will become the status quo especially if they are as lacking in depth as the example shown (I am not really familiar with the Khan Academy). The graver problem shown in the article does not really concern the Khan Academy but rather our method of consuming information from a general standpoint, and the dangers of the personalization of news; but this is a rather tired complaint, and the author does not suggest a novel approach for combatting it.
The idea behind it is getting children interested in history enough that they would pick up a book. It's not, as I understand it, the only account of history they're expected to have. And to think otherwise is to think stupid.
A great job of what, exactly?
I see it as investigative learning: you get some facts, a few events, a few ideas... and you're curious. You want to get more knowledge or discover the truth behind something, then you try to fill those gaps with evidence (in this case, with more historical facts?).
I wouldn't dismiss Khan just because he doesn't go into detail with aspects. For example, the holocaust... it that the only thing that we remember from the WW2? In fact, Allies and Russia did not go to war because of the holocaust, so why is it so important that he mentions it? Is everything else so "not" important in WW2? If I were giving an account of it, I would even be praising Germany's technological advancements as a nation and comparing them to their contemporaries.
I wouldn't dismiss Khan just because he doesn't go into detail with aspects
I wouldn't dream of doing that-- there's only so much detail one can fit into a brief lecture. The problem (if there is one) is one of selection and interpretation.
His point about FDR's viewpoint of Hitler's invasion of Poland is really weak and I just don't get it. Everything actually is relative. The Germans probably thought it was just as fine (if not moreso) to invade Poland as in the US Bush thought it was ok to invade Iraq. Of course history is written by the victors. Had Germany won, it would have been written as a good action from their perspective.
So in 15 minutes he doesn't dig into terribly much detail. Let's face it, even after a teacher spends an entire semester going over this with 8th graders, in 10 years time do they remember all the details? Details are something that can come after interest is solidified. Pushing details on 8th graders misses the larger point often as it is buried in dates, maps, names and such. If you get them hooked on the main point, they will find the details.
Other than criticize this new source of education, what are YOU doing to address the needs of people hungry for learning other than continuing on the same well worn path that you've been on for decades?
Professional academics whining about Khan Academy ignore the fact that their customers are telling them something by flocking to Khan's videos. They're saying that higher education today doesn't always meet their needs, and they need these services packaged, priced, and delivered in new ways.
If Mr. Clemens doesn't like Khan's treatment of a particular topic, how about recording your own video that does it right.
It does seem easier to criticize and keep to your own cloistered little world rather than put yourself out there and try to innovate. But that's just my perspective.
He brings up a few valid points that I haven't thought of before. Presumably, as systems like KA are adopted the amount of total educational material decreases, as individual curricula are replaced by a standard set of materials. This decreases diversity in the type of education available for students, which can be seen as a good or a bad thing. I bet the author would be all for the system if the videos were "conservative" and they were replacing curricula of "liberal" educators teaching our children filthy subjectivist lies.
In the first video on motion, Sal is going on and on about the topic, and is doing a wonderful job. At the same time, he's writing notes. This would be fine, except the first '=' he writes looks like a 'c', and then in his first example, he is literally saying "D is equal to fifty.", while clearly, his writing looks more like "d=60".
Seriously, couldn't Bill Gates buy some new tools for Sal? It really takes away from the production value when I see this.
If on the other hand Khan Academy were the FIRST station in education: igniting passion for a subject - as it does for some people in math and economy - inspiring people to explore further and read more about it, mending the damage done by our institutional education!
Than that would be a great achievement regardless of the mistakes, simplicities and even the ideological leaning.
This is exactly why every teacher should be delivering their course content in the same format as Khan. I am in the process of building a platform for any teacher to manage learning online in the same way that Khan has been so successful. I've been fortunate to be receive support on this transformation in education as recipient of the Thiel Fellowship: 20 Under 20. Visit http://ingenic.com to follow my progress.
Ok, so the content can be tightened up, but that's not why Bill Gates is excited here. Take the Khan concept, pick the worlds finest educators in respective fields, build the content, and distribute. That's the game changer here.
His answer (according to my notes) is that they are working on it, and it is a challenge to eliminate bias. He stressed that they have just recently grown to 8 employees thanks to the recent funding, and that they are doing their best.
Their overall vision is one of enabling true mastery of subjects by enabling students to proceed at their own pace, and expand upon on a topic only after mastering the prerequisites (switching from percent knowledge in fixed time to complete knowledge in variable time).
The eventual goal is to change the in-class focus from data transmission to social interaction, learning interpersonal skills, communication, leadership, and teamwork.
I was sceptical about Khan academy, but I believe that with sufficient funding and attention they will be able to create a curriculum that is at least as good as what the average student gets now, and probably much better. They have also started experimenting with A/B testing using analytics on their 2 million students to find the most effective ways to teach.
My interpretation of his overall point is that "no one person should control the messages of history". There is definitely some work to be done by Mr. Kahn in this regard and given his very open mind I don't doubt he already has considered this.
But, even if they are improved, almost every student watching that lecture will miss a big part of the humanities--being with peers, actively engaging in group discussion, and finding responses to questions by actively synthesizing information. Having an interesting discussion is like finally coding something interesting with a new programming language you just picked up. Learning the facts or the syntax isn't the point.
Khan has the vision that these videos will be used in conjunction with classroom teachers, but with roles reversed from the current school system--students will watch lectures on their own time, and in class, they will engage in discussions and doing practice problems. This seems to be the part that was missed in the article, and much of the discussion here. If that symbiosis is executed correctly (and the lectures are improved), this could be powerful.
Khan on history of D-Day:
"if you’ve ever seen Saving Private Ryan it starts with this and it’s probably, you know, I’ve never been in, never been on . . . never stormed a beach, but I can imagine it is probably the most realistic re-enactment of what it was like to storm the beach at Normandy"
Khan on Entropy:
In a recent talk he explained how he prepared for his lecture on entropy: "I took two weeks off and I just pondered it, and I called every professor and everyone I could talk to and I said, Let's go have a glass of wine about entropy.
Khan on Entropy: In a recent talk he explained how he prepared for his lecture on entropy: "I took two weeks off and I just pondered it, and I called every professor and everyone I could talk to and I said, Let's go have a glass of wine about entropy."
I'm sure you realise that entropy is not a concept from biology, but it isn't clear from your comment.
Since he has a background in engineering, and therefore a reasonable physics and chemistry grounding, I would guess that he had his "glasses of wine" and pondering to make sure he covered all the bases, and thought of a helpful way of explaining it.
Have you watched his lectures on entropy? Is there anything wrong with them? I'm sure constructive criticism is better than calling him names and picking on his research methods.
It's valid to point out that other subject matter may not be well presented by this kind of approach.
On the other hand, it's early days. So fast-forward 20-years when you can download a video-game from Khan Academy that will teach you about Vietnam or the Korean war that is exhaustively researched and curated by a hobbyist and veteran (from both sides) community.
Imagine downloading an interactive demo that shows that even if you target an airstrike to within 1m in an urban area, fragments will travel 500 m into neighbouring apartment blocks.
That would be better than kids learning their military history from CoD.
Also, sometime in the near to mid-future, the platform should open up to allow anyone to submit their own video lectures.
It's much more accessible/enjoyable to read a PC magazine than read a technical document.
They expose topics to a much broader audience.
I loved the French Revolution videos.
As to this specific video I actually thought it was very good - precisely because of Khan's conversational breezy style that managed to keep my interest even though I was quite familiar with these events. A longer lecture would have me closing the tab pretty quick and I imagine the same reaction from the target audience.
Lastly, Khan Academy videos in their current form are probably not going to replace the entire educational system, but if you want to get a quick introduction to a certain topic they seem to be effective. For example I just watched this video a few minutes ago and approximately doubled my knowledge of diabetes: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rPLjSY00JlE and I would guess some of the viewers have similar increases in their knowledge in other topics. THAT is where Khan Academy currently excels and it is a perfectly worthwhile contribution.
The real problem will arise when people stop being interested. And when that happens it won't be the fault of the Khan Academy or wikipedia or the Internet or TV or video games or religion or <insert favoured target here>.
Unfortunately, he does not explain what a Bolshevik
is nor how or why the Bolsheviks overthrew the Russian
empire, nor why it matters but no dilly-dallying, just
fast forward and bingo...
For instance, if some lecture L is about ideas A, B, C, D, and there is another lecture B+ in the library that specifically targets B in detail, then there could be an option presented to the user around the timestamp B to divert to B+ in depth, then come back to C. The important part is that the material is relevant as decided by the user. If they decide B+ isn't what they wanted, they could cut right back to C immediately.
Math can be taught without bias, as numbers can only be seen as numbers. There are only a few ways you can teach maths. When you teach history, it brings in a plethora of views, opinions, and bias. There will always be someone saying "hey wait a minute, you forgot <fact>.", and I'm not sure there's a way around that. At least not in history.
I agree with the assertion that The Khan Academy, via brief video clips, may be a terrible place to learn history (though it is GREAT for other subjects).
But as others have noted...who cares? The internet is filled with opinions and falsities, far more "dangerous" than anything on Mr. Khan's site, that pass themselves off as "history". It's just a matter of degree.
Isn't the simple solution to this problem is to hire other teachers than just having Mr. Khan do everything? In addition to Mr. Khan, hire some Japanese, Germany, and Russian history teachers so we get another perspective in addition to an American one.
Perhaps Khan Academy should become the universal platform for teachers from around the world to deliver their curriculum. Then we would have a much richer education system with a plethora of perspectives--which would even beat our current system of one teacher teaching everything in a classroom.
In all seriousness, I am not sure what the author's point is. Summaries lack detail? Short things are short?
Also, from reading the original scare-mongering article based on a single video viewed by the author, i didn't get the feeling that he was complaining about the lack of 'who and why' but rather libruls like Khan and Gates are taking over the world and throws in a irrelevant point about personalization engines in google and facebook.
As to your first sentence, one of the largest weaknesses of the entire essay is that most every criticism being applied to Khan could be applied equally to traditional education; the fact that something is tested for in class certainly doesn't make it the best thing to be learning.
It's not as if the vast majority of us didn't already manually create deeply effective filter bubbles, after all; but now that we can blame it on algorithms rather than our own nature, it's much easier to talk about.
(( Once upon a time I thought the internet would be a cultural/ideological melting pot, but it was clear a decade ago that it was having the opposite effect.... ))
People use the phrase "melting pot" like it's a good thing, but I don't want to be melted in a pot.
That doesn't really matter if nobody does it -- and it turns out to be even easier to find (& stay in) communities that simply echo & reinforce your worldview.
As for the rest, I think you're just being contrary for the sake of being contrary. It seems fairly obvious that one of the least intellectually healthy things out there, from individuals all the way up to societies, is to be surrounded solely by people who agree with you. Isolation breeds ignorance and extremism.
IMO, it'll be good if KA focuses on the hard basics like mathematics. (By "hard" I don't mean "difficult" btw.)
Here Mr. Khan stands exposed as possessing a historical perspective steeped in academia’s standard issue, postmodern, left-leaning narrative of cultural relativism, multiculturalism, and moral equivalence.
Ironically, Khan's TED talk is in stark contrast to two previous TED talks:
* Dan Meyer - Math Curriculum Makeover http://bit.ly/DanMeyerTED
* Sir Ken Robinson - Do Schools Kill Creativity? http://bit.ly/SirKenTED
According to Dan, today’s math curriculum is teaching students to expect (and excel at) paint-by-numbers classwork, robbing kids of a skill more important than solving problems: formulating them. How does Khan Academy foster problem posing and creativity?
If your philosophy of education is sit-and-get, i.e., teaching is telling and learning is listening, then Khan Academy (and flipping) are more efficient than in-classroom lecturing.
But why lecture at all? TRUE progressive educators, TRUE education visionaries and revolutionaries don’t want to do these things better. We want to DO BETTER THINGS.
Rather than instructing students with Khan’s videos, teachers should be inspiring them to figure things out on their own and learn how to create their own knowledge by working together. For example, instead of relying on lectures and textbooks, Modeling Instruction in Physics emphasizes active student construction of conceptual and mathematical models in an interactive learning community. Students are engaged with simple scenarios to learn to model the physical world. In comparison to traditional instruction, Modeling is extremely effective — under expert modeling instruction high school students average more than two standard deviations higher on a standard instrument for assessing conceptual understanding of physics.
Watch one Modeling class in action: http://bit.ly/ModelingPhysics . In the clip, the teacher says, “I don’t lecture at all. Instead, I create experiences for the students either in the lab or puzzles and problems for them to solve and it’s up to them to try to figure that out.” I’ve often wondered why this type of teaching hasn’t gotten more attention in the media. Maybe because the teacher is using simple things like whiteboards and bowling balls rather than shiny iPads and SmartBoards?
While Khan argues that his videos now eliminate "one-size-fits-all" education, his videos are exactly that. I tried finding Khan Academy videos for my students to use as references for studying, or to use as a tutorial when there’s a substitute teacher, but the physics ones aren't very good. They don’t use a lot of the multiple representations that are so fundamental to learning. Concept development is minimal, and he unknowingly plays into student misconceptions. His videos do not align with proper Physics Education Research. Teachers improve via reading up on pedagogy and getting feedback from mentors & students. Where is Sal's feedback? Where's the pedagogy?
The research that Khan chooses to ignore is summarized in this one book, now available as a free PDF: "How Students Learn: History, Mathematics, and Science in the Classroom" http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=10126
If you truly believe you have a far better way to teach physics, you really should let the world see how you do it. Make Youtube videos and point us to them. We're looking for other great teachers that are consistent with our mission and resonate with students.
Given some of the criticism of your YouTube videos, I agree with your simple advice: Let them make something better and let the viewers decide.
The Khan Academy does not have some kind of monopoly on providing education content to help people of any age learn. Rather, the Khan Academy was simply the first to resonate with so many people around the world in such a short period of time. You clearly have many people's attention.
The Internet is an open medium to provide content, and to those who think they can do better, they know that they don't need much to get something up, as has been made very clear with Sal and his use of a simple drawing tablet, screen recorder, and headset. So make it happen -- show how your content is vastly superior to Sal's that both educates and makes it fun. Oh yeah, and free.
Sal, as you have noted a few times now, you are actively looking for other people that posses your talents to educate people. Have you thought about creating an open competition on your site and let the public vote on what they think is good content and fits the "Khan Academy mold"? Just a thought :-).
I think torque2's point is that the way they teach physics cannot be encapsulated in a YouTube video. Physics teaching based on the last 20-years of PER requires engagement of prior conceptions and inquiry-based activities (to name a few key findings). This cannot be done in the type of teacher-centric videos you're giving. I'll admit that your lectures are awesome... but they're based on a learning traditional that has been proven to be ineffective relative to student-centric environments by a couple decades of education research.
I had a serious question that I hope you'll answer:
"When you learn the physics required to make a video, do you just watch MIT lectures or do you go out and actively search for and build your own understanding of the concepts? Do you talk to other people about the ideas you have and what they think about the subject? In short, do you have a conversation with the material, or is the material hand-fed to you from a video?"
Thanks for all your hard work Sal, it definitely has a place in a learner's experience... it just might not be the place it's currently being touted as in the media.
And because something is popular doesn't mean it's good. Take modern music. A lot of popular singers attract crowds of people and make tons of money. But very often the music just sucks. And people forget these pop idols as fast as they make new ones.
Page hits isn't a very good metric if you're trying to get feedback about what viewers actually thought of the videos. A lot of people have heard of Khan Academy through the news or may land there via a search engine. How many of them watch the video all the way through? How many stick around and watch parts II, III, etc.? I could be totally wrong about this (please correct me if that is the case), but my suspicion is that YouTube's stats probably aren't sufficiently granular to distinguish between a page visit in which the viewer watches the video in its entirety (suggesting that the video was perceived as worthwhile) and a visit in which the viewer watches for a little while and then bails (indicating that it was not perceived as a valuable experience). User comments are subject to a great deal of self-selection bias. Viewers who thought the video was the best thing since sliced bread are way more likely to take the time to login (if already registered) or register and login (if not already a registered YouTuber) than those who thought it was a waste of time.
There's also a more fundamentally important question to consider: Did the viewer actually learn the material or were they simply duped into a false belief in their own competency? HN regularly features posts about interviewing techniques aimed at sorting out real programmers who can write code proficiently from people who simply possess a false belief that they are programmers. Sound pedagogical methods require some means of verifying that the student has, in fact, built a valid mental model of the subject matter and, of particular importance in the sciences, is capable of applying their knowledge to reason about novel situations. How do you know that your students actually understand the material? Do you have any way of distinguishing between students who have had a previous formal learning experience with the subject matter and are simply looking for a refresher course, students who are concurrently receiving other instruction (the teacher is using Khan Academy as a supplement), and students who have had no prior exposure to the material?
Or at the very least, please watch the whole video because it explains one massive problem with video science lessons and how to partially fix the problem.
The irony is also thick with him using a video to try to explain that videos can't explain things.
First of all, he says all kinds of positive things about the work you're doing. "Impugn Khan Academy"? Really?
Second, he is explaining physics education research that he himself did for his Ph.D thesis. He's using examples from his own work to make comparisons in technique to what worked and what didn't work in his own, actually objectively tested research. This is not "a small interview of a handful of people".
Third, he's not saying videos can't explain things - he's saying that they often fail to make students question their own pre-existing misconceptions.
I hope you actually watch the whole video and catch the research context? I mean I am handing you a research-tested science education technique that you could easily incorporate into your own videos if you actually wanted.
The study was, as best I can tell after reading through much of it (a lot not relevant to this discussion), quite limited. The largest number of students considered for any of the experiments: 370. All from one school. Most of the other experiments included far fewer students (fewer than 100).
Chapter 9 (additional experiments in chapter 10), and the section on Participants and Design has most of the relevant information. I was particularly fascinated by the decision to remove students from the final result for "watching more than one multimedia treatment." I mean I understand why it's important to control for this, but part of the point of KA is to provide additional treatments of information.
I am not saying that this in any way invalidates the research, but I also don't think it's fair to say that this is somehow a surefire tested solution that is being handed over. In addition, because the research hasn't been repeated outside of the original setting -- at least I couldn't find it, please correct me here if I'm wrong -- it makes the claim that "because introducing misconceptions was effective in this study means it must be effective in all science videos" a pretty serious stretch.
I'm all for research. We're doing a lot of it right now with our pilot students/classrooms and existing users. But just because something has been research-tested doesn't mean it's automatically the right thing to implement for KA or its students.
On a more serious note, however, as a science educator, I appreciate the Khan Academy's work to make these very clear educational resources available to all. They definitely can be useful in many ways. Now if only my district would un-block YouTube...
However, I have to agree with many points Frank and others bring up. I have taught for 5 years--my first 4, I worked relentlessly to provide thorough and clear explanations for all the science concepts I taught. And I was baffled when I graded my final exams and found that my students learned little to nothing from 9 months of clear explanations and practice. Last summer, I learned about Modeling Physics (http://modeling.asu.edu/) and implemented it in my physics and chemistry classes this year. Now, my students have rocked their final exams and shown huge improvements from pre- to post-test on standardized instruments. This is simply my experience, but there really is significant physics education research which points to the same conclusions.
Educators are not trying to belittle or denigrate anyone. However, we have to protest when so many resources and media attention are being given to a method of instruction that has been shown to be rather ineffective, particularly in science, when incredible alternatives are available but are, unfortunately, largely being ignored and unfunded.
With respect to the Khan Academy, it would be interesting to see tools that provide a kind of interactive exchange of preconceived ideas and then helping to break them down. Having tests after the exchange would then help provide great metrics on the retention and understanding of the subject.
In any case, 1veritasium has at least provided an thoughtful response to the Khan Academy. He recognizes a good thing but provide some nice constructive criticism that could certainly improve what the Khan Academy already could offer. So as someone who enjoys Sal's videos, this idea gets a +1 from me... You know, as just some random person on the Internet ;-).
The whole point is not who can make better video lectures. The point is why lecture at all?
I wish the world would see my YouTube video about Modeling Physics (and resources) here: http://bit.ly/ModelingPhysics
I wish the world would see my 13 other videos showing Modeling Physics in action: http://vimeo.com/channels/modelingphysics
I wish the world would read my post on pseudoteaching: http://bit.ly/MITpseudoteaching
I wish the world would read my posts on standards-based grading, which allows my students to show growth and mastery in physics: http://bit.ly/SBGposts
One of my pseudoteaching posts talks about how forward thinking universities like MIT (your alma mater) are switching from lecture-based physics to a more interactive model like Modeling. The research on Modeling is there, please don't ignore it: http://modeling.asu.edu/modeling/Mod_Instr-effective.htm
More research --> The 3 key principles from "How Students Learn: History, Mathematics, and Science in the Classroom" are:
#1. Engaging Prior Understandings - "If students’ preconceptions are not addressed directly, they often memorize content (e.g., formulas in physics), yet still use their experience-based preconceptions to act in the world.
#2. The Essential Role of Factual Knowledge and Conceptual Frameworks in Understanding - "What novices see as separate pieces of information, experts see as organized sets of ideas."
#3. The Importance of Self-Monitoring - "Appropriate kinds of self-monitoring and reflection have been demonstrated to support learning with understanding in a variety of areas. In one study,15 for example, students who were directed to engage in self-explanation as they solved mathematics problems developed deeper conceptual understanding than did students who solved those same problems but did not engage in self-explanation."
You can read the entire book for free: http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=10126
Modeling Physics does all 3. Your videos are 0 for 3. Badges do not count as "self-monitoring" in any meaningful sense.
You also have no hard data (as of yet) as to the effectiveness of your videos. Just anecdotal comments from students. You have no controlled studies. In fact, controlled studies show that video lectures are rather ineffective. See Derek Muller's video abstract and research: http://bit.ly/KhanEffectiveness
I'm not trying to be mean. I think your videos can be a resource for some teachers/students. But using video as the primary method for content delivery is ineffective.
We should not have to "flip" lectures and HW in order for students to be more interactive in class. When inquiry is done right, the interaction is already built in.
I'll stop there, before this gets too long.
Thanks for your time,
Frank Noschese (aka torque2)
I would assume that studies comparing a competent physics teacher to a video instructor would show the former being more effective.
However, there is a shortage of competent physics instructors. There is a (possibly bigger) shortage of competent maths teachers. I am speaking from my more extreme experience in South Africa, where most of the teachers are abysmal. Expensive video-based instruction helped me achieve a respectable mark in physics/chemistry, most of my peers lacked that privilege and did very poorly. Even at university, things like differential equations, linear algebra and calculus were not particularly well taught - most professors are not really good at teaching, and in my case, they were teaching in a second language (Afrikaans speakers teaching English speaking students). The Khan Academy would have helped me even at the undergraduate level.
I have posted to HN in a related thread about video instruction in South Africa [ http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2351100 ]. People have been doing it for years here. I would recommend a controlled study in South Africa using KA, or The Learning Channel videos by William Smith (NOT run in an elite private school, but at an average township school) before we write off video based instruction as "ineffective".
One item in particular that hasn't been much discussed here is the self-paced exercises. In here, students can try a problem, to see if they understand the content; and they keep trying until they get 10 in a row. The Khan Academy logs data about how many tries and how long it takes, so they have data on what they consider to be "mastery" (this may be an oversimplification...) There is also a certain game-play aspect which I think is kinda cool, and I like the map of linked concepts/exercise sets. As far as I see, they only have math problems up there as of now.
At face value, it looks like plug-and-chug, drill-and-kill methodology that irks any teacher of merit. But: there are opportunities to take this infrastructure and make it so much stronger ("formative" vs "summative").
Diagnoser.com is an example of an online exercise bank that includes aspects of several decades of physics education research (also some chem and life science) but the concept could be generalized for other disciplines as well. Each question includes "distractors" (wrong answers) that appeal to certain common misconceptions (what they call "facets" of understanding). If you get it right, great! you go on to another problem that might pose a similar question with a twist to challenge you. If you get it wrong, it recognizes from your answer what your misconception might be, gives you a quick mini-lesson to challenge your thinking on that, and gives you a related (though not the same) problem to see if you get it (for physics teachers: like an interactive FCI). The data is reported to the teacher, including right/wrong answers, and the "facets" that correspond to certain ideas and misconceptions. The teacher can see where their teaching (or in this case, Khan videos) have been effective, and where they could use more work (perhaps suggesting the student watch or review a particular video). NOTE: this is only one aspect of the Diagnoser Project's larger program, so I have taken it out of context, but it seems appropriate for this discussion.
This formative approach is effective especially for the conceptual problems, not just the plug-and-chug problems that I saw on the KhanAcademy.org site. Yes, this is much more difficult to program than "right/wrong, next!" problems, and requires research to write good facet-based "distractors" (take advantage of years or decades of education research out there!) but it (a) gets more useful data than just "right/wrong" and (b) allows students to act on their wrong answers immediately by challenging them to think about why it was wrong. I think incorporating something like this with Khan's gameplay/scoring/data collection methods would make the exercise feature much stronger.
What's curious about this critique is that it sounds almost exactly like what Khan advocates in his recent TED talk (here:http://www.ted.com/talks/salman_khan_let_s_use_video_to_rein...)
In it, he advocates flipping the traditional school model of passive lecturing in the classroom, followed by problem solving during homework, and instead use videos like his to allow the students to view the lectures at home as homework and then spend their class time interactive with the teach and other students in active learning and problem solving.
My take on the assumptions:
1- The best (and research proven - google physics education researcy) methods are not direct lecture (aka traditional lecture / sage on the stage etc...). The best methods involve a process commonly referred to as Interactive Engagement (IE). Using these methods, students interact with each other, the instructor, and the appropriate materials for the class.
Me discussing things, working some samples, asking the students to work some samples... that is the traditional approach. It is only minimally effective at changing the way students think. There are 2 links below that go more fully into the interactive education approach (backed up by Physics Education Research - PER).
2 - The assumption that videos can't work is also problematic. They can be useful. However, if i create a video in which i: discuss things, work some samples, ask the students to work some samples... well, since that is only minimally effective when I am there and able to respond to questions, it is even less effective if I am not there and the student can only watch.
If the video is made in a way that addresses common prior-conceptions, then you've got a shot at changing the way people think. However, it is not effective to simply state the common prior-conception is wrong.
A common example, beginners think light bulbs use up current. The first bulb uses some, the next uses what’s left. Tell them that is not the case and they will parrot it back. When they test on it, or when it is phrased or needed in a different way, beginners go back to their initial conception. The approach of, “they just need to listen” doesn’t work.
A common way in which we address prior conceptions (I think originated by McDermott at UW) is to show a couple of student reasoning examples that attempt to explain a phenomena. The current student chooses if student A, B, or neither is correct. Then that same prior-conception is hit over and over in a variety of ways in an effort to truly overcome the prior-conception and establish / replace / adjust it so that the student’s concept of what is going on agrees with the accepted evidence.
Again, if I make a video of traditional teaching, it will (at best) be as bad as traditional teaching. Putting it on video doesn’t make it better. This would be, essentially video Cliff notes.
3 – Feedback… This can be messy. There have been an odd number of studies that check to see if student feedback is helpful. An MIT study showed that students gave very poor reviews to a new teaching method for E&M. These are MIT kids that should be pretty bright. Pretty self-aware of their learning (one would think). The overwhelming response on reviews of the new approach was that students preferred the more traditional course structure and felt they learned little. The results were that the students in the new course (that students didn’t rate highly) did significantly better than the students in the traditional course.
Two sources of information that will help a truly concerned person evaluate these ideas in more depth.
The 2nd link is a cached copy.
If the author ever imagined that WW2 could be explained in one short Khan Academy video his expectations were wrong not Khan Academy itself.
Personally, I believe he is a spiteful fool afraid of a revolution in education.
Please refrain from name-calling.
On one hand, you're rightly pointing out that one fifteen-minute video by one guy can never be an all-encompassing summary of thirty years of world history. And you're right.
But then you're talking about the Khan Academy as being some kind of "revolution" in education, even though the Khan academy still consists of fifteen-minute videos by one guy. This is the article's point -- there's some pretty serious limits to what we can expect out of a Khan-Academy sort of model. He's done a great job with introductory mathematics, but there's a crapload of work that would need to be done to make it an adequate source for other subjects.
Facts are important. Details are for the interested.
People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.