The One World Schoolhouse Salman Khan

Book APA Citation: Khan, S. (2012). The one world schoolhouse: Education reimagined. New York: Twelve.

What is "The One World Schoolhouse?"

"The One World Schoolhouse" by Salman Khan is a recollection of Khan's philosophies of teaching and his personal views toward today's education system. In the first 1/3 of this book, Khan describes his school system, Khan Academy, which he was able to raise/save money to found. The academy supports Khan's ideas of the transition from passive to active learning. "Every day - every class period - the gap grows wider between the way kids are being taught and what they actually need to learn" (Khan 2). Khan believes students, like his cousin Nadia, should be tutored in a way in which the student can work at their own pace and master skills before being allowed to proceed to the next lesson. Because some students may struggle with certain concepts, Khan created a program that students, parents, and teachers were able to access for FREE in order to watch instructional and educational videos that would allow the students to learn the material in even their weakest subjects. "Provide a free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere" (7). In Khan's opinion, a 93% on a test in any subject is not enough even though it's considered an A. If the students aren't receiving a 100%, then they are not understanding every single concept of the material. Students must strive for a perfect score before advancing to more complex curriculum. This idea falls under Khan's concept of "Swiss Cheese Learning."

The photo above is a representation of Salman Kahn's ideas behind "Swiss Cheese Learning."
Swiss Cheese learning

"As we've seen, our current system divides disciplines into 'subjects,' and further divides the subjects into independent units, thereby creating the dangerous illusion that the topics are discrete and unconnected" (83). Khan believes that the way in which classrooms divide their subject material allows for gaps in students' learning, disabling them from connecting different content to see a greater picture. Students who are barely passing classes with the "average" grade of a C are being left behind by those who are receiving a broader understanding of the classroom material. According to Khan, children being left behind are unable to connect studies to issues they encounter in the outside world.

The Prussian Model

Salman Khan was able to form his ideas about education in part by studying past methods of schooling, such as the Prussian Model, and why they did or did not support independent thinking, creativity, and growth. Grades K-12 were first put in during the eighteen century. According to the Prussian Model, the idea of education was "not to produce independent thinkers, but to church out loyal and tractable citizens who would learn the value of submitting to the authority of parents, teachers, church, and ultimately, king" (76). Though Khan does support the overall effect of the Prussian Model (lifted millions out of the middle class, taking part in industrialization, and being a revolutionary source of schooling for the capabilities of this time period), he does argue that "we (should) adopt a more questioning and skeptical stance toward the educational customs and assumptions we've inherited" (81). You may notice ways in which the education system is now trying to move away from the Prussian Model along with ways in which we are still stagnant, stuck in the idea of creating identical thinkers. Question for the class: What are some of these ways you have observed through your experiences?

Fill the gaps: Create responsibilities, create memories, create thinkers

Students cannot be forced to learn. In fact, according to Khan, "At the end of the day, the fact is that we educate ourselves" (46). Students most be encouraged to learn and find interest in the material in order to accept the overall responsibility of learning. Khan upholds the fact that our brain is subject to two different types of memory, short and long. In order to turn the short-term memories in class into long-term memories that may be reflected on in the future, said information must be thoroughly and deeply processed. This, in turn, upholds Khan's ideas materialized in Khan Academy.

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Kristen Howser

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