Reboot the School

Salman Khan's YouTube Lessons Have Already Made Him A Geek Celebrity. Now He Wants To Reinvent Homework, Banish Classroom Lectures--And Maybe Save Education

  • Share
  • Read Later
Jamie Chung for TIME

Salman Khan

(6 of 6)

Khan says the goal is to help kids at the back of the pack catch up more quickly. But some experts are unconvinced. "I've seen a lot of things come and go," says Jeff Mirel, a professor of education and history at the University of Michigan. "The idea that new technology can quote-unquote save schools or dramatically improve student performance--well, the road is littered with a lot of, if not train wrecks, then certainly a lot of new technology left by the side of the road."

Probably the biggest challenge is to increase teacher buy-in. Some worry that Khan's methods are too untested. Others are more blunt, saying he wants to replace teachers with computers. Khan responds that while his program could end the need for teachers to stand at the front of the class and pontificate, it makes their role no less important. "In the ideal classroom, the teacher is either spending all of their time doing deep interventions with students on a one-on-one basis or facilitating true interactivity--labs, simulations, projects," he says.

He's also well aware that many educators dismiss him because he is not a trained teacher. "It'd piss me off too if I had been teaching for 30 years and suddenly this ex-hedge-fund guy is hailed as the world's teacher," he says. "But that's silly. It's like telling Bill Gates, 'Look, you don't have an M.B.A., so don't do business.' I think there's an advantage to being an outsider--I'm not colored by the dogma of the Establishment."

At the office, Khan plots out a few more economics videos for the day. The lesson he uploaded this morning is already drawing comments. He says he's a "sucker for positive feedback" and admits he'll sometimes wait until he gets a compliment before making another video. Writes one commenter: "I wish they had this when I went to school. LOL." Time to make another video.

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. 6
  7. Next Page