kitchen table math, the sequel: revenge of the nerds

Friday, October 5, 2012

revenge of the nerds

Had never heard of this video and am guffawing as I watch. I LOLLed, literally, when I reached the part where one of the math guys says Salman Khan "really ought to do a handwriting video, too."

Karim Kai Ani (Khan Academy: The Hype and the Reality) says Khan replaced the video, but quotes Khan's reaction as: “It’s kind of weird...when people are nitpicking about multiplying negative numbers.”

Question: Why is Salman Khan a rock star?


Because that's what he is. He was the keynote at this year's so-called Celebration of Teaching and Learning, and he was a rock star. They had to post guards outside the room where he gave his workshop to keep the crowds out.

I blame the multi-verse.


Catherine Johnson said...

You've gotta watch the whole thing. I just laughed again when one math guy asks the other math guy, "You think your students would be following this?"

Meanwhile Debbie S. sends word that at least one math teacher at the Marlborough School, in Los Angeles, has "flipped" his classroom, using Khan's videos. Marlborough is one of the most elite private schools in al of Los Angeles; we had at least 3 friends who sent their kids there. One was a famous actor, one was a major TV producer, another was an architect.

The school was super-expensive & super-rigorous.

It also, as I recall, practiced a form of grade deflation, wherein Marlborough students were graded much more harshly than comparable students in other private schools, disadvantaging them in college acceptance.

At least, that's what one parent told us about 10 years ago.

If indeed Marlborough practices grade deflation, a Khan-flipped classroom ought to help with that.

James said...

Salman Khan's site is not important because he's a great lecturer; he's not. Its important because it's a systematic and sequenced set of content on math topics. Ideally, the site should morph into one where better versions of individual videos by other presenters can be rated and upvoted.

Any principal directing the use of these without vetting the accuracy of the individual videos used is making a serious mistake. If vetted, though, I think some of them are good, and having the framework in one place is very helpful.

Auntie Ann said...

Because he uses a form of direct instruction.

Teachers won't do that themselves--it's anathema to them--but by having Khan do it, they can educate their kids while pretending they are constructivist.

Our P-8 school, also in Los Angeles, is toying with the idea.

Catherine Johnson said...

Its important because it's a systematic and sequenced set of content on math topics.

Yes, you're right.

Catherine Johnson said...

Auntie Ann -

The Khan videos are a form of explicit instruction, but they violate some (or most) tenets of explicit instruction. I will at some point get my notes from Morningside re: explicit instruction (or "mathetics" - and, yes, that word is spelled correctly). In the meantime people may want to read Barak Rosenshine's article on explicit instruction in American Educator.

Moreover, the videos are nothing like what Doug Lemov describes in Teach Like a Champion.

The Khan videos are, by definition, one-on-one affairs; students get none of the benefits of listening to a math explanation while surrounded by peers listening to the same math explanation.

The entire education world has completely lost sight of the importance of peers in learning ----- this at a time when all learning is supposed to be done inside a small group!

People also seem to have completely forgotten, or never experienced, that creativity & spark & 'discovery' that happen during whole group back-and-forth.

I frequently see something a new way because of something one of my students comes up with --- and the reason one of my students has come up with a new way of looking at a topic is that we're all thinking about the same thing at the same time.

(Except for the kids looking at their cell phones, of course. But they don't get to look at them for long in my classroom.)

I should see if I can find the link to that Professional Development video on Direct Instruction I posted way back when. I remember the presenter had an actual number of questions you're supposed to ask per each 15 minute segment ....

Straight lecture with no interruption for questions is I think a pretty unusual way to teach in K-12 ---- and in college, too, except for the large lecture course. And large lecture courses have recitation sections where students discuss the content, ask questions, and answer questions.

MOREOVER, videos, unless they've been rehearsed and edited to the degree that a textbook has been rehearsed and edited, can't possibly be as effective as a book.

What makes a book effective, ultimately is the revisions its gone through.

Catherine Johnson said...

As always, I should add that when I first encountered Salman Khan, before Bill Gates discovered Salman Khan, I thought Holy Cow! This is great!

I also discovered that I couldn't get C. to buckle down and watch a Khan video, and that the ones I watched didn't 'work' for me unless I was using them primarily review.

The problem is that he is now a bona fide rock star within the education world, and his stated position is that directly instructing students in math gets boring quickly. As I recall, Khan told the Celebration that he had originally recorded the videos precisely because repeating himself to one cousin after another because tedious.

He believes that exploration and discovery inside the classroom are enjoyable activities, while directly communicating content is not an enjoyable activity.

That's a significant part of his rationale, at least as I understand him: we should flip the classroom because a flipped classroom is more enjoyable for teachers.

I can't tell you how strongly I object to that.

If you're tutoring your cousins for free, then absolutely: record the videos.

But teachers are being paid to perform a job, and schools are being supported by taxpayers to do the **best** job they possibly can.

Auntie Ann said...

All I meant by direct instruction, was that it is the kind of lecture-style teaching that constructivists despise...except when presented by Khan, apparently.

No constructivist teacher would be caught dead presenting information the way Khan does. It's everything they rail against.


I watched one of his history lectures (on Haiti). It was interesting, but I assumed I should think of it like a Wikipedia entry--a good starting place, but not necessarily reliable. I might trust him for math and some science, but not history or other subjects.