Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Sal Khan Spoke at UCSB

I live in Santa Barbara, CA. Sal Khan spoke at UCSB last night and I had the chance to go hear him. His talk was very informal and similar to his TED talk, but with more detail on how he started, what he hopes to accomplish in the future for the Academy, and where he sees/hopes education will go in the near future. He really validated many ideas I have had about teaching math.

My wife, who also came to the talk, asked me afterward if what I had been telling her over the last few years about how math should be taught was just me repeating what I had heard from Khan. It was not. It was great for me to hear someone with the respect of many, like Bill Gates,  and the Google Corporation,  articulate what I believed to be true.

I had started to wane a bit on how I was using Khan and I started doing more full classroom direct instruction. After his talk last night, I was more inspired than ever to use the Academy both as homework for my students and also more in class. So, today I cut back on my lecture and gave students more time to work with Khan.

Here are some exact, unsolicited, quotes from today's class:
"This is the best math class we've ever had!"
"Yes, yes, I got it!!"
"Mr. D, I need your help, no wait I got."
"Can I stay here at lunch and finish up my exercises?"

My kids were focused, excited, incredibly enthusiastic, and obviously enjoying themselves. Can something that motivates students to try to succeed and to have a positive attitude in the classroom be harmful or detrimental to their learning? I think not.

BTW, week one of students eating during class has been a great success! The first day they needed to be reminded that it's okay to eat but they can't be drawing attention to themselves or disrupting the class by showing off their sandwich or whatever. After the novelty wore off, students just got their food and ate/drank while class was going on. No big deal and the classroom manger has kept my room nice and clean. When you give even young students responsibilities, after a few reminders, they handle it quite well.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Mr. D,

    I just thought you should know that what you are doing is valuable.

    I'm a 21 year old CS undergrad student, but my real passion is education. My 2 dream jobs are working at Khan Academy or Valve Software, haha.

    But anyway, I just thought you should know that what you are doing is bigger than you, or your students, or your students' parents. You're helping usher in a fundamentally different education system. And I just wanted you to know that it is appreciated wider than you may be aware.

    Thank you,