"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Monday, March 12, 2012

Krash Course 3

Ever wonder how you can become an educator, education expert, or education reformer?

Well, since 60 Minutes has bought into the most recent con-du-jour, the Khan Academy, let's consider how people become educators.

How about Secretary of Education Arne Duncan?

Peter Smagorinsky puts it best:
"Let’s trace his path to the presidential Cabinet. One of Duncan’s childhood friends, John Rogers, appointed Duncan director of the Ariel Education Initiative in Chicago. Duncan’s directorship led to Ariel’s reincarnation as a charter school, following which Duncan was advanced in the Chicago Public School system from deputy chief of staff to chief executive officer. Note that he worked exclusively at the executive level, never stooping to teach classes or learn about schools except from an operational perspective."
Or how about Bill Gates? This one is easy, to become an education expert or education reformer, amass billions of dollars.

And Michelle Rhee? Bypass the education establishment by not receiving any degrees in education, become a leader by entering the classroom through TFA, teach three years, and then attain your credibility by firing teachers and creating an education system built on fraudulent test data.

This brings us back to Sal Khan—whose wikipedia page identifies him as an "American educator."

Pretty impressive considering he, like Rhee, Duncan, and Gates, has no degrees in education, and like Duncan and Gates, has no experience teaching.

But he got tired of his day job, started tutoring his relatives, made some videos, and now is a full-fledged educator. And according to CBS, he may be the future of education.

I don't see myself grabbing billions any time soon, or having the connections Duncan and Rhee have to get on the appointment train.

So like Khan, I think I'll just announce what I am and go from there...

I am a nuclear physicist...

[waits patiently for CBS to call]

Reconsidering the Khan Academy

The Best Posts About The Khan Academy

This Khan Academy History Video Is Just Awful

Khan Academy: It's Different This Time

Finally, More Criticism of the Khan Academy

The Wrath Against Khan: Why Some Educators Are Questioning Khan Academy

Khan Academy: Improving school by changing nothing


  1. Thank you! I watched this piece last night and I could not believe how they showed the teacher looking at the computer in order to help her students learn math. Are we supposed to be impressed with that? That is not a successful math classroom. Technology should supplement NOT replace the learning environment.

  2. Anonymous6:53 PM

    I find your sarcasm both disturbing and refreshing. Disturbing because it makes light of a very serious deficit in our education system: unqualified persons in positions of authority charged with determining our fate as educators. Yet, you have enlightened me because I had no idea that these people - some of whose idealogies I endorce [like Rhee] are not true educators by design. No wonder our education system is so broken. This is how it must feel to learn that there's no Santa Clause, or "Superman." Canada is a bonafide educator, right?

  3. Anonymous1:05 PM

    Kahn exhibits the worst example of the notion that "Anybody can teach." If you watch enough of his videos, you will soon discover the lack of consistent mathematical vocabulary, even at the basic levels. Though somewhat mesmerizing to view, the very least use of his models should be mildly used in the classroom setting. I will provide viewing his videos as an opportunity for sutdents to hear another voice explaining a concept we've studied in class. It's true...those furthest from the student are trying to make all the decisions that impact that student. Logic would suggest that I, a professional teacher, can accurately decide what is best for the medical profession, or any other profession of which I am familiar. Afterall, I live in a house...so I know a lot about hos the home construction business should be run. I have been to a doctor's office...therefore, I am an expert on how the medical profession should operate. I drive a car...so shouldn't I tell GM how to do business on my behalf? We teachers are way to charmed by the satisfaction of our daily work with children to confront this head on. We must organize ourselves as a professional group and demand this insanity to stop, expect prinicipals to do their jobs and get rid of teachers who aren't up to the job and admins to sit patiently waiting for us to tell them what WE need to do our jobs. The pyramid is upside down. Invert it so the student, family and teacher is on the tip top with a broadening base from which to support our needs to meet the academic, emotional, psychological and social needs of our students community. Get out of our way. Our work is demanding and all this reform rhetoric is distracting us from the creative, innovative and rewarding tasks that make a difference in the lives of our stduents.