Khan Academy: Taking Learning Out of 'One Pace Fits All' Classroom

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Instead, Khan and his allies see classrooms thrumming with creative activity, spurred by the fact that kids will have already engaged the subject matter through the online lessons.

His ideal classroom, Khan said, is not a bunch of chairs all positioned to look at a teacher standing in front of the class, but a "much more collaborative space."

"It's not one pace fits all anymore," he said. "The teacher will be doing focused interventions with them. They will be monitoring them, inspiring them. They won't be lecturing them."

About 25 to 30 schools, most of them based around Silicon Valley, have started implementing the Khan Academy as a pilot program, exploring how it might change teaching and learning.

Khan and his academy have plenty of critics. Some argue that his approach is likely to work only for students who are already motivated self-starters -- while leaving many other kids behind. And other critics contend that online learning dilutes an essential dimension of learning: The human connection between good teachers and students.

Khan said the best answer to his critics comes from the very kids who use his lessons and exercises.

"The single biggest thing that happened, not obvious to us at first, the teachers and the principal told us is that the students started to take ownership of their learning," he said. "They started not to say, 'Hey, I'm passive, tell me what to do next.' They started to say, 'These are my goals. I'm going to seek out information, teacher, you are my coach, you're my mentor, help me do it.'"

Times are changing, but one thing is constant: The preciousness of our children, the beauty of their young minds, the hopes we have for them.

They are already online. Maybe, at least in some ways, that is where their classrooms can be too.

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