Historically, the world of education has not been a bastion of innovation and has been slow to adopt change. However, more recently, the struggles of the U.S. school system have come into greater focus and catalyzed many leading thinkers (i.e. Bill Gates) from outside the education universe to become involved. This intensified focus by those assessing the situation from an outsider's point of view had led to some exciting changes and advancements, which gives some of us renewed hope for the future of education in America.

One of the bright minds that has come to the fore is Salman Khan. Two years ago he posted a few math tutorials on YouTube to help his cousins. The videos created a viral following, and now he is one of the leading faces working with school districts to innovate how math and science instruction is being administered in the classroom. I was excited to learn about the work that the Khan Academy is doing and believe that education will be in a better place if we continue in this direction of embracing new models for instruction. 

You can read more about Khan and his academy in this recent Fast Company article.

Also, check out Salman Kahn's TED talk below. I think you will find it very interesting. — Kevin
4/25/2011 11:47:29 pm

Hi! I will be following your blog! Great idea. I am missing something though..what does TED stand for?
Also, I'm not sure what I think about your post, as a teacher I see the outsiders and their ideas as a problem. The outsiders become our higher ups in the district(think Bersin era) and cause many of the issues we have today. Bill Gates has a lot of money and runs a successful company, but what and where is his experience in education, other than funding?

4/26/2011 04:26:12 pm

Hi Heather — Thank you for following our blog! TED is a nonprofit organization that runs conferences bringing together people from the worlds of Technology, Entertainment, Design. TED speakers are alloted 20 minutes to present their topic of choice. A few years ago, the organizers began posting these talks online. On the KandY Shoppe, we will highlight some of the TED talks that we find particularly inspiring and informative. Please check out other TED presentations at http://www.ted.com
Thanks for reading! ~ K+Y

4/26/2011 04:47:58 pm

Hi Heather -

I certainly understand what you're saying about the pitfalls of outsiders becoming involved in a space with which they may be unfamiliar or for which they may be unprepared. That said, fixing the school system is such an enormous endeavor that I think the more open minded we can be in finding solutions (including incorporating ideas from "non-educators"), the better the odds of discovering an effective and sustainable way out of this problem. Outsiders like Bill Gates certainly don't have all the answers, I agree, but they are able to ask some tough questions and catalyze changes that those entrenched in education are sometimes unable or unwilling to make.

The exciting part of what Salman Khan is doing is that he's leveraging his platform to collaborate with schools and school districts to create customized (and maybe revolutionary) solutions for those districts. It sounds like real out-of-the-box thinking by those in the district to embrace these new methods. If the results are positive, we may be entering a new era of how children will be taught.

Just my two cents. Thanks again for getting involved!


4/27/2011 08:08:08 am

I understand your thought behind it, and I do think outsiders can bring big ideas into schools, since very smart individuals often do not become teachers, since we are not thought of highly in the US, and the pay is not stellar. Unfortunately, I do think there are individuals, in education, who are in powerful positions, and they have not even stepped in a classroom or have been trained as an educator. So, we need to be careful regarding who is getting let in, and hopefully new ideas include a thought process from the workforce that does interact with students on a daily basis.

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