Salman Kahn has been dubbed “the world’s teacher.” As inventor of YouTube’s “Kahn Academy,” he’s created more than three thousand videos that provide free tutoring for math and science. More than 350,000 students have viewed his on-line lessons.
It started quite by accident in 2004 when Kahn began tutoring his cousin through on-line learning. People who saw the lessons urged him to videotape them and put them on YouTube. His relaxed presentation and clear explanations made the free tutorials an almost instant hit.
Salman Kahn isn’t a teacher by training but he’s convinced there’s a better way to learn. In an article in the July 9, 2012 issue of Time magazine, reporter Kayla Webley writes, “In Kahn’s view, there’s no need for students to be divided into grades by age. Instead, they should learn at their own pace, moving on to the next lesson only when they have mastered the concept before it.”
Webley continues, “Kahn says the issue isn’t the computers; it’s how we’re using them. The traditional classroom model essentially forces educators to teach to the middle. High achieving students aren’t challenged and low achieving students are made to move on to the next concept before they’ve mastered the previous one. “
Kahn argues teachers should convert time spent “teaching to the middle” to individual, one on one time that is spent giving students the personalized learning they need. He calls the approach a “flipped classroom.”
As Time reports, Kahn says, “In the ideal classroom, the teacher is either spending all of their time doing deep interventions with students on a one-on-one basis or facilitating true interactivity – labs, simulations, projects.”
“That’s us! That’s Discovery Ranch,” says Victoria Fielding. The Discovery Ranch Academic Director practically shouts with excitement. “That’s exactly why we focus on individual learning. We can use a variety of teaching tools to help students learn at their own pace and really understand what they’re learning.”
Fielding says the Kahn videos are another supplemental tool Discovery teachers are incorporating in their lesson plans. She says the videos provide greater depth than textbooks alone provide.
“With small classes we really can teach children on whatever grade level they happen to be on. We meet them where they’re at and help them achieve understanding and competency. Whether that means a student spends two weeks on a concept or two hours, there is no ‘teaching to the middle’ at Discovery Ranch.”
Is Kahn just a flash in the pan or is he really onto something when it comes to revolutionizing education? It depends on who you ask. But the phenomenal success of his free YouTube videos is being funded, in part, by the likes of Bill Gates, who, according to some sources, uses the videos to help teach his own children.
According to Time, Khan’s goal is to grow his YouTube channel into a non-profit that can support all aspects of the learning process.
Victoria Fielding’s goal is equally ambitious. “I want every student at Discovery Ranch to discover their own learning potential. I want them to see academic success really is within their reach.”
Read the Time magazine article at: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2118298,00.html