I have written a lot about Salman Khan and the Khan Academy. I will continue to do so.
Today, I want to talk about what he has done to modern theories of education. For over a century, there has been a mass illusion that has been fostered by beneficiaries of tax money. This money has gone to teachers and educators. This illusion is as follows: state certification necessary to be a good teacher.
This illusion has been basic to the creation of the teachers’ union. It is this commitment to what is laughingly known as professionalism that has been the basis of legal barriers to entry. Progressive educators fostered this illusion early in the 20th century. They created a theory of education out of whole cloth, except this whole cloth was tattered cloth. There was never any scientific or any other kind of evidence that indicated that going through a teacher-training program designed by men and women on college faculties would in any way improve the education of children.
This is a classic case of people who had little or no personal experience in teaching school children, who sat down and designed a series of theories about what it takes to teach children. The theories kept changing. There were always rival theories. But they all had this in common: most of the people teaching these theories in university classrooms had never had personal experience or success in teaching school children.
This is the classic example of how universities work. People who teach in MBA programs have never owned businesses. People who teach psychology have never worked as full-time psychologists. Professors get themselves licensed by their own group, few of whom have had any experience in the free market, where profit and loss determine who survives and who fails. Then, having created a state-mandated barrier to entry, they earn above-market wages paid by taxpayers. This starts at the university level, and then it moves down to the very lowest levels of the educational system.
It is all a farce. It is summarized by the slogan we have all heard: “He who can, does. He who can’t, teaches. He who can’t teach, teaches teachers.”
Without any warning, Salman Khan in 2006 began posting his mathematics screencast videos that he produced for his nieces and nephews. People began to come to his website to see the videos. He kept producing more videos. He offered them free of charge.
By now, you know the story. Today, 10 million students are using his videos. They are using them in school systems and also in homeschooling environments all over the world. The students must speak English. That is the main barrier to entry, other than Internet access. Internet access is going to get cheaper. Learning English as a second language is going to get cheaper. And, before too long, there will be automatic translation programs that can be applied to videos. Khan will someday be teaching 100 million students.
(For the rest of my article, click the link.)