Educator Sal Khan has a plan to allow people agency over the way they learn. Talking about transforming struggling students into scholars, he pins the focus on taking time to grasp key concepts and build a strong foundation of learning, before moving on to more advanced learning. He asks, “Would you choose to build a house on top of an unfinished foundation? Of course not. Why, then, do we rush students through education when they haven’t always grasped the basics?”
As a citizen of the world, it’s an exciting concept to look forward to. He recalls his cousins grappling with math, and how by the time got to algebra, these learning gaps caused them to believe they lacked the ‘math gene’.
In a martial art, he says, “you would practice the white belt skills as long as necessary, and only when you’ve mastered it you would move on to become a yellow belt. It’s the way you learn a musical instrument: you practice the basic piece over and over again, and only when you’ve mastered it, you go on to the more advanced one.” So why not with math?
In a traditional academic model, students are grouped together by age and are forced to learn at a common pace, regardless of their individual skill levels. In today’s world, Khan explains, there are tools that can tell students where they stand, with on-demand videos and adaptive exercises, to enable them to learn at their own pace.