I expect a few folks will stop by this blog after reading my recent critique (together with Michael Paul Goldenberg) of Khan Academy. That critique was based on Sal Khan’s lack of knowledge of common student misconceptions, as evidenced in his videos. It was also based on the fact that he seems not to care.
Forthwith, some more reading on the topic, Teachers need to know about their students’ ideas.
Read and enjoy.
And feel free to argue with me (read the comments-you’ll see that you’re not the first!)
But before you do, please read my post on ground rules. I adhered to these in my Washington Post piece. You need to adhere to them here. It’s how we’ll learn together.
• Division of fractions. (Contrast with Khan’s treatment of the matter. Of course our work has different audiences; but I argue that his teaching ought to reflect having though about the issues I wrote about. Does it? Discuss.)
• Some thoughts on designing tasks from which students can learn.
• Problem-solving and understanding; notes on their relative importance in teacher preparation.
• A post in which I predicted my own students’ struggles-only partially correctly-and discussed with commenters afterwards.
• A high-concept, mathematically sophisticated way of saying Holy crap! I get why my students struggle with logarithms!
You might also enjoy my ongoing series on Talking Math with Your Kids.
A common theme in critiquing Khan’s critics is to ask, “Why don’t you go ahead and make your own videos?”
This has some merit. But it’s not the fact that Khan’s making videos that I find troublesome. A more apt retort would be, “Why don’t you go ahead and make your own multi-million dollar website?” The answer to that should be obvious.
For me, on the video front, I have. I am still pretty open-minded and curious about what video can do well. I think it can provoke (examples here, here and here). And I think it can provide decent explanations and demonstrations. I do not think it can be the primary instructional medium for a quality math course. And yet, I am ready to be persuaded.