I came across Khan Academy a few years ago when I needed help my with Biology homework.
I remember thinking to myself “what a great idea for someone to put all this together” and how this could actually become something huge. As of late, I have not heard much of anything about Khan academy, but I did do a quick search on the internet about what others are saying about it.
From what I have read, there are mixed reviews. Some educators think that while his intentions are good, his methods are off the mark. Some educators have even made their own videos highlighting where Khan Academy creator Sal Khan, got things wrong in his videos.
They also highlight his haphazard attitude towards his videos. Khan has gone on record saying that he often times does even know what he is going to say in the videos, and that he does not use a script.
Some educators feel like that he is held to a different standard then they are. Get a guy on the internet with a laid back-whatever attitude: Brilliant. Get a teacher in the classroom with the same attitude: failure and considered an awful educator.
While I agree with some of the criticism, I can not help but think that what Khan is doing is something that we all should be supportive of. He is putting the saying “education isn’t a privilege but a right” into action. Sure he has made some mistakes in his videos, but it has to start somewhere.
If we truly thought that education was a right, then why would we have the private school versus public school dichotomy? Because it is fact. Private schools have heftier price tags to ensure smaller teacher-student ratios, better accommodations and preferential status when applying to college.
So in reality, we pay for what we think is the better product, under the assumption that is of better quality. That makes sense when you care comparing blenders in the store. However, when we are talking about of children, don’t they all deserve the best education possible?
With our current mindset, this pay-for-better mentality is hurting our children. The achievement gap will never be closed if we continue to have low income kids stuck in schools where the teachers are overworked and school is falling apart. If we paid equal attention to everybody across the board no matter where they came from, lives could only be benefited for the better.
I recognize that this is impossible. There are reasons why we have the system set up the way that it is, and why it is so difficult to reform. But there are things we can do to make some issues dissolve.
Khan Academy along with similar programs are starting something that could take off. I do not know what it will take, however, I think that sooner or later parents will get angry and they will demand something. It starts at home, where parents are seen adding on to their kids education by providing more lessons and tutoring. Some resort to homeschooling in order to achieve the education they desire.
The thoughts are already there, it is just a matter of time before we have an occupy movement for education.
I am not here to provide a solution to education reform, however, I think that the dialogue needs some new ideas. Instead of criticizing people for trying to change it, we should at least applaud them for trying and then lend our own ideas, and perhaps with enough ideas, something can be made of them that improves the current situation.
I have only been a product of the education system and have seen my individual results from it. With my daughter entering school within the next four years, I will get to observe and analyze it from a parents perspective.
As I watch the education system come full circle in my family, I hope that myself, and others will be able to add to the conversation, and perhaps contribute something to make a lasting impact.
Holly Mayer is a junior English major and ethnic studies minor. Letters and feedback can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org