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Let Them Eat Khan Academy 134

Posted by Soulskill
from the trickle-down-education dept.
theodp writes "Connie Ballmer announced that Seattle's Lakeside School and nine other private schools have formed the Global Online Academy to enhance learning opportunities for students at the elite institutions, some of which charge upwards of $35,000 in tuition and count the likes of Bill Gates, President Obama, Steve Case, Mitt Romney, and Sean Lennon as alums. 'Independent schools have traditionally struggled with how to provide their education models and resources to a wider student population in order to serve a public purpose,' Ballmer explained. 'While the initial classes will be for students at member schools only there is potential to share them with a broader community and help narrow the disparity of educational opportunity.' In the meantime, there's always Khan Academy."
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Let Them Eat Khan Academy

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  • Here's hoping this will be successful. Meanwhile, is there a complete, online, free curriculum?

    One which would tell you, like maybe in a lesson-plan format, what to teach everyday? Say, either for a homeschool, rural school, or independent school (religious/hippie/whatever)?

    The resources here seem incomplete:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_source_curriculum [wikipedia.org]

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Where does it say 'free?' It doesn't. These are private schools - they arn't just going to give away their cirriculum. That is not a good business model. The Khan Academy is free, but it's also the work of just one very dedicated person, and one person can only do so much.

      • by Hazel Bergeron (2015538) on Tuesday May 17, 2011 @08:30AM (#36152022) Journal

        IME as a private school graduate, they don't give you a better education anyway. What you get:
        (i) How to talk the talk, i.e. say what people want to hear - most of life's tests aren't about properly understanding stuff, just about giving the impression that you do;
        (ii) The right friends - they will help you out whenever you need it;
        (iii) A sense of self-importance which gives you just enough tenacity and lack of empathy to overcome any adversary^H^H^Hity.

        Curriculum? Read good books and talk to smart, keen people.

        • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday May 17, 2011 @08:47AM (#36152156) Journal
          That isn't always fair. Some private schools are, indeed, purely about meeting the right sort of people, playing some sports, and learning how to not look awkward in a suit. Others provide a genuinely excellent education. Some do both(whether to the same people, or by means of having a meritocratic battle arena and an old boys club on the same campus, catering to different populations.)
        • by Moryath (553296)

          Or for the private girls' school:

          (iv) meeting the "right boy" to get her MRS degree with.

        • by pspahn (1175617)

          So what you're saying is that a private school education teaches you how to be full of shit, ride the coat tails of others, and develop a huge ego?

          No wonder the education system needs a massive wild fire.

          • So what you're saying is that a private school education teaches you how to be full of shit, ride the coat tails of others, and develop a huge ego?

            No. That's how you choose to interpret it. Whether due to a desire to be maliciously/disingenuously/cynically obtuse, or to lack of reading comprehension skills, only you know.

            No wonder the education system needs a massive wild fire.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non_sequitur_(logic) [wikipedia.org]

        • Or you can translate it an other way.
          (i) How to communicate effectively - You actually know a lot about stuff let people know that too so they can make an informed decision. Pissing someone off while may make you feel happy in the short term, it rarely ever gets you way.
          (ii) Socializing Skills - If they are willing to help you out when you need it that actually sounds like good friends.
          (iii) A sense of pride in your work. Which allows you to focus harder on your work and get better results.

          • Or you can translate^Wspin it another way.

            FIFY.

            Or is there some path I'm missing that "feeds back an error term" to these students that will distinguish between your version and the OP's? If so, please detail it ASAP - we seem to have a lot of upper-crusters that have gone "open-loop".

        • I grew up in Oklahoma and attended Oklahoma public schools up until high school, when I went to Groton School. The difference was stark. For example, 8th grade math in Oklahoma was still focused on basic arithmetic. (I really wish I was making that up, but I'm not.) By the time I graduated from Groton I managed to get a 5 on the AP calculus exam.

          Prior to attending Groton I coudn't write worth a damn. Groton fixed that too.

          But most important thing I learned there was, basically, how to think - the self-

      • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday May 17, 2011 @09:05AM (#36152310) Journal
        It isn't actually clear that schools have all that great an incentive to be terribly protective of their "curriculum". Some colleges have explicitly endorsed(and funded) things like OpenCourseWare, and even for the ones that don't, it isn't as though you'd have a hard time scraping a complete syllabus and reading list off the prof's website(or, if the school uses some horrid authenticated 'portal' like that damnable "blackboard" crap, virtually anybody taking the course would give you a copy of the syllabus and reading list for a 6-pack...)

        At the highschool level, things like "AP" and "IB" are pretty heavily codified, and the tests that actually verify your knowledge of them are administered independently of the school, so you don't run into the "You say that 'my mommy and daddy academy' was taught according to Roxbury Latin's curriculum. How cute... Now go away." problem. Public schools, similarly, have voluminous state standards and approved textbooks that are trivially available for public inspection.

        What schools actually sell isn't really curriculum; but (depending on level and institution) a mixture of prestige/networking, a reputation that allows them to (credibly) assert that a graduate with a decent GPA has actually learned their curriculum, practicum courses using facilities unavailable to smaller institutions or individuals(particularly in things like chemistry and physics), and access to really good people in the relevant fields.

        Access to a good curriculum can, certainly, make autodidactic behavior easier(given that the set of books/resources one could possibly devote time to is larger than could be tackled in a lifetime, it sure does help to have somebody else suggest the ones worth starting on, a problem for which some intelligence is required; but no level of brilliance will substitute for years of experience...) and one's experience with a merely OK teacher following a good curriculum will be much better than the same teacher following a bad one. However, it is really impressive to watch and experience what a Good teacher can do, with or without a curriculum. There are plenty of stuffed suits out there, and plenty of research-focused intellectuals barely cleared for human interaction; but there are also Good Teachers who can bring more insight into a series of extemporaneous talks and reading suggestions than could 90% of their lesser peers, given full access to a curriculum. Good schools try to have some of those on hand.

        I applaud efforts to use technology's ability to organize and cheaply disseminate information that would historically have mouldered away somewhere to provide broader access to information, and advice on how to use it, to people who don't have a good source thereof. Hopefully it will even outcompete some pathologically counterproductive teaching environments. I'm somewhat skeptical, however, of such projects abilities to either rival having access to really good teaching, or to handle the task of introducing students to new things. Given how cheap technology makes it, a system that is purely helpful to autodidacts is still entirely worth it; but some of the pieces where the motivated autodidacts of the world stand around congratulating each other on how brilliant their newfound educational model is seem to miss the fact that much of the educational world's "trench work" consists of trying to inspire disinterested students to become interested learners(and, if that fails, at least shove enough basic knowledge into them that they don't become another recruit for the useless festering underclass...)
    • Successful? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Mathinker (909784) on Tuesday May 17, 2011 @08:40AM (#36152094) Journal

      Color me cynical, but somehow I get the feeling that institutions whose clientele are exclusively the super-rich do not have a real stake in trying to minimize the disparity between their clients and the less fortunate. They may put up something "for everyone" for its PR value, but I wouldn't be surprised if at the same time they're emphasizing to their paying customers how much better is the education their kids are getting.

      This is in contrast with private universities, which are also terribly expensive, but which have a tradition of valuing education for its social benefits. Even these universities may one day get to the point where they feel economically threatened by the free material they post (for example MIT's OpenCourseWare) --- for example, if a new demographic of students starts to appear which demand to pay less but only to be tested and certified for their degrees, because the free educational material available is good enough for them.

      • Threatened is right.

        The entire point of education is to administer the knowledge with a series of proofs that the students learned it (let's ignore gaming the system for now.)

        Knowledge huh? That should be cheap. The inbound material consists of books and podcasts! And a college degree is a very finite series of classes, so it can't really be that hard for $State_School to post a curriculum for all the courses that don't require crazy equipment. Then all the student needs is Q&A sessions, and the adminis

        • by havokca (1864454)

          The Edu Revolution is coming, and it's going to scare the Old Boys network.

          Not really. You're making the mistake of thinking that universities actually care about their undergrads. They only care about them insofar as every undergrad is a potential slave^H^H^H^H^H postgrad student waiting-to-happen. The exception to this would likely consist only of those schools which charge upwards of 100k/year/student, as that money would likely surpass grant funding.

          In order to revolutionize undergrad programs you'd have to first change the way the peer-review system works and how organizatio

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by AJH16 (940784)

          That may work in some simpler degrees, but many degrees require hands on work and experience as well. This can't be handled through books and podcasts. Do you really want your Doctors, your Engineers and your Nuclear Scientists learning from books on tape before they go out and start operating on you, building your bridges and running your nuclear reactors?

          • Combining several threads at once, it still works to slice a good year off the "general ed requirements" for those professions, and the lecture courses thereafter. Meanwhile, it gets into the "degree subsidization" of those professions by the English majors. That would force a collision with the other stories that we are giving away our engineering knowledge for free to the Chinese and reducing the US jobs for those degrees.

            My original post meant that for the simpler degrees, if we convince the employers t

            • by AJH16 (940784)

              Yeah, agreed for that. Certainly a lot of courses that are taught as lectures really do not need to be. Personally, I'm not an academic and would prefer something more along the line of apprenticeship for professional fields. I've never liked the whole lecture mentality in favor of hands on and dynamic education. I don't learn well from blanket presentation of material and learn much better from actually doing and I think this is true of many people. So yeah, I agree that general education stuff that d

              • by Belial6 (794905)
                The whole things kind of points out that our society is over educated, while ironically still being undereducated. What I mean by that is that the is a not insignificant gap between being a functional, useful member of society, and being someone that will help drive society forward.

                Most people don't need, and really don't end up better than an 8th grade education. These people are not bad or useless. Many of them really don't care to learn more than that. They spend 13 years in public education, then
        • Re:Threatened (Score:5, Insightful)

          by jellomizer (103300) on Tuesday May 17, 2011 @09:26AM (#36152544)

          "The Edu Revolution is coming, and it's going to scare the Old Boys network."

          The "Old Boys" network has a key advantage. Their parents actually care and can fully provide for the welfare of their children. The problem with Public Education is the fact that there is this crazy idea that "All kids should be saved and are worthy to go to college" The problem is School isn't always fun and most children do not have the ability to self motivate themselves to do well in school. There are a lot of parents who think education is a wast and use the schools as a baby sitting service. Other parents do not have the resources to help their children. Private school aren't any better then public schools however the parents tend to pressure the children to perform better. If you take all the kids out of a snotty upper crust public school and put them in the poorest inner city school, and all the kids of the inner city school into the upper crust public school I doubt you will see any meaningful change in the child's education.

          I would argue the schools will need to be more selective. If by high school they should be strongly pressured (not forced) to go to vocational training if they don't have what it takes, so they are trained for the workforce in 4 years. The A and B students will then continue onto High school, where the distractive elements of kids who really don't want to be there, is reduced thus can focus more on education and college.

          • Re:Threatened (Score:5, Informative)

            by luis_a_espinal (1810296) on Tuesday May 17, 2011 @11:25AM (#36154122) Homepage

            "The Edu Revolution is coming, and it's going to scare the Old Boys network."

            The "Old Boys" network has a key advantage. Their parents actually care and can fully provide for the welfare of their children. The problem with Public Education is the fact that there is this crazy idea that "All kids should be saved and are worthy to go to college" The problem is School isn't always fun and most children do not have the ability to self motivate themselves to do well in school. There are a lot of parents who think education is a wast and use the schools as a baby sitting service. Other parents do not have the resources to help their children. Private school aren't any better then public schools however the parents tend to pressure the children to perform better. If you take all the kids out of a snotty upper crust public school and put them in the poorest inner city school, and all the kids of the inner city school into the upper crust public school I doubt you will see any meaningful change in the child's education.

            I would argue the schools will need to be more selective. If by high school they should be strongly pressured (not forced) to go to vocational training if they don't have what it takes, so they are trained for the workforce in 4 years. The A and B students will then continue onto High school, where the distractive elements of kids who really don't want to be there, is reduced thus can focus more on education and college.

            I agree with this. Other developed countries, notably Germany and Japan have similar models. The German model of education seems IMO the best for preparing kids either professionally and vocationally in a manner that is meaningful for both students and society. That is what we need.

            What we currently have in the US is a system with a 12-year long baby-sitting system that, upon exit, gives a kid the choice of flipping burgers or go to a 4-year college. It completely ignores vocational training. Vocational training is the foundation to a solid, self-reliant and enterpreneurial blue collar working class. We do not have that at all.

          • by ultranova (717540)

            The problem is School isn't always fun and most children do not have the ability to self motivate themselves to do well in school.

            The problem extends to adults too. This raises some obvious suggestions about what should be thought ASAP.

            But how to effectively taught self-manipulation?

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Sorry that you missed the point of college, but I can only think of a few classes that I took where replacing the professor with a book would have been even half as effective. Human professors (the decent ones, anyway) do a lot more than just open student's skulls and pour in facts. A good professor will foster critical thinking, discussions, and will welcome challenges to intellectual authority. Show me a book that can do all of that, and we can start talking about learning.

          As to where the money for yo

        • The Edu Revolution is coming, and it's going to scare the Old Boys network.

          Empty rhetorical nonsense.

      • by Moryath (553296)

        for example, if a new demographic of students starts to appear which demand to pay less but only to be tested and certified for their degrees, because the free educational material available is good enough for them.

        As the cost of a college education has skyrocketed, a similar thing's happened already in both public and private institutions. Namely, kids taking a couple of years at a local community college to get their "core" out of the way before transferring in to the college they actually want to get the

        • I personally believe that rise of "HR Methodologies" is one of the major problems we face in the U.S. today. Worse, no one outside of slashdot is really talking about it. There is proof that HR drones are abusing the H1-B system and still it is not addressed in our media. Why... because they subscribe to the exact same methodology and they don't see it as a problem.

        • by hedwards (940851)

          Indeed, one of the reasons why WA state and Seattle in particular was on a rise for so long was our highly educated work force, but we do also have cheap electricity to go with it. With the huge cuts to the state schools here, I worry about how much longer that will be the case. Grads tend to stick around where they study if they can find suitable work, and if we're chasing students out of state with high tuition rates and poor support, it will eventually take its toll.

      • You're not really paying for the education at those places. You're paying for the access.
        • Yeah - the old saying is "it's not who you know, but who knows you." That's the basic principle behind the value of a private education..

      • by Darinbob (1142669)

        An aside maybe, but these are not exclusive to the super-rich. In particular, when Obama and Clinton were there as children they were not a part of any elite class or an old boy network and they didn't have wealthy parents. Of course these private schools like to drop names like these as part of marketing to show that even the underclass can make it big with the right schools.

        There are indeed private schools that cater only to the elite. I don't know about these 9 particular schools but the majority of p

    • Meanwhile, is there a complete, online, free curriculum?

      For all years K-12, in all sovereign states' official languages? Not yet, but we can hop on Wikibooks to start making the textbooks as a first step, and once those are fini^W "featured", we can add lesson plans.

      • by Compaqt (1758360)

        Well, OK, not all languages. Just English would be fine. And then people in non-English speaking countries can adapt it. (Sort of like on the model of English Wikipedia -> others.)

        And, granted, stuff like national history would be different for various countries, but math and science, also (to a great extent) English, should be the same.

  • by bogaboga (793279) on Tuesday May 17, 2011 @08:24AM (#36151976)

    ...I would start with the issue of eliminating the employment of multiple choice questions in the sciences and mathematics.

    This move in my opinion, would encourage students to deliberately show the working (read steps) as they solve these questions.

    What we have these days is a situation in which students are encouraged by the knowledge that they can guess their way through an exam and it has not helped.

    My approach would reward 'small marks' for each step shown to be relevant in solving a number. This approach is better. What do you think?

    • by Sonny Yatsen (603655) * on Tuesday May 17, 2011 @08:34AM (#36152040) Journal

      One of my college physics professors had a novel solution for using scan-trons for easy grading while avoiding the multiple choice dilemma. Instead of selecting from a series of 4 or 5 choices to choose from, he gave us scan-tron sheets with the columns of numbers from 0-9 like the ones you see when you fill out your social security numbers. You work out your physics problem and then input the number on 3 or 4 columns.

      It's a great way to make exams easy to grade while avoiding multiple choice. We always had our physics exam grades back the next class for that class.

      • by Sonny Yatsen (603655) * on Tuesday May 17, 2011 @08:41AM (#36152106) Journal

        Incidentally, here's the professor:
        http://www.physics.rutgers.edu/~croft/FARADAY.HTML [rutgers.edu]

        Awesome dude. For the last 14 years, he's given the annual Faraday Christmas Children's Lecture where he messes around with physics experiments like jetting around on rollerblades and a 50 pound fire extinguisher and having a cinder block broken on his chest while laying on a bed of nails.

      • by Moryath (553296)

        I had one who gave the wickedest "multiple choice" questions ever. Every single question had the following options:

        (a) A
        (b) B
        (c) C
        (d) D
        (e) A and B
        (f) A and C
        (g) A and D
        and so on...

        Of course, that doesn't work so well for math problems, but he was a psych prof.

        • My precalculus teacher in high school had

          E) None of the above

          as the fifth choice for every single problem on the test.
        • I had a professor who would have True/False tests where you had to justify your answer. You could answer either true or false to the question as long as long as your justification was correct.
          • by ultranova (717540)

            I had a professor who would have True/False tests where you had to justify your answer. You could answer either true or false to the question as long as long as your justification was correct.

            Let me guess: you were studying economics?

      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 17, 2011 @09:28AM (#36152576)

        I am a current high school math teacher.

        The solution you propose doesn't help so much with the problem of multiple choice tests. The goal is to understand what the student knows. If a student makes a sign error at the beginning of the test, but does all of the steps correctly, this student knows a lot about the problem. Without actually looking at the work, I don't know how to tell this.

        Another example is systematic error. Suppose the student doesn't understand rounding rules, or switches x and y. Again, looking at the work and I can tell much more about what the student knows.

        • If you are really a high school teacher, then you are probably teaching at least five classes a day with around 30 students each. That means you have a hundred thirty tests to grade. At the end of the day you're going to be thinking more about how to get through grading as quickly as possible.

          The logical way is to do multiple choice tests. You can combine it with checking the students who did poorly, to see if you can figure out what their problem was (since you can require them to show their work).
          • That seems like a reasonable compromise. The ease of scantrons, and the educational value of an actual check.
          • If you are really a high school teacher, then you are probably teaching at least five classes a day with around 30 students each. That means you have a hundred thirty tests to grade.

            Please select the correct answer for the following:
            5*30 = ?

            a. 130
            b. 150
            c. Squirrel!
            d. Irony

        • Presumably there is some middle ground to be found. For example, pose a question that involves a series of intermediate steps and make each step multi-choice, or write a value in a box. The only thing that sucks is that the student is forced to do the calculation in one specific way, so it hardly allows expression of understanding of anything other than the algorithm they have learned rote, but it seems to me that there is a place for rote learning among other styles.
        • This is a good point. If more teachers were more like you, a lot of the problems problems with the education system (maybe even the need for standardized testing) would go away. The important thing about testing is figuring out which students needed help with which concepts. That's why things like pop quizzes and homework should be done. Not to give Timmy padding on his GPA, but to use as a diagnostic tool by a good teacher.

          I have tutored several students, and some of the common practices in grading are awf

      • In my college the math, physics, engineering, etc departments never used scan-trons, at least not in any class I ever took. For most of the courses it's not a problem to grade by the next day since there's one, maybe two sections and maybe 50 students at the most (although I've seen as few as 6 including myself). However, in courses such as calculus and physics with hundreds of students they still managed to grade all of these exams by the next day. The exams were basically 8-10 pages long with one question
    • I personally hated showing my work in school, I've always been good with numbers and could do a good percentage of the questions in my head.
      Having to write down steps was just a hassle and slowed me down.
      Granted, there were plenty of problems where I did have to write them out, but I would rather have the option over being forced.
      • by shish (588640)

        I personally hated showing my work in school, I've always been good with numbers and could do a good percentage of the questions in my head

        This. Brain is RAM, paper is swap space - I'm quite happy to use paper when there's too much going on at once to concentrate on all of it, but other than that it's just slower

      • by hedwards (940851)

        Well, tough. I say this as somebody that has spent a lot of time tutoring math and science students, and doing things in your head is a really, really bad habit to get into when you're being asked for an exact answer rather than just an estimate. The reason being that if you do make a mistake, there's absolutely no way that you'll ever identify it and the likelihood of getting any partial credit is zero. What's worse is that the teacher then has no means by which to understand where that answer came from un

      • by tlhIngan (30335)

        My teachers did it Differently(tm).

        You chose to show your work, or didn't. If you got the right answer, full marks regardless. If you didn't, but showed your work and it was a simple error, a small point loss (the amount depended on the error - stupid errors started counting more as the term went on in an attempt to train students to be more careful). If you didn't show work at all, a zero.

        Bonus points if you know of another way to estimate the answer to show you're in the right ballpark. Even if all you di

    • by elrous0 (869638) *

      God, I used to hate having to show my work in math classes. While I get why teachers liked this (it showed you understood the process and weren't just cheating), it drove me crazy because it discouraged creative thinking. I was always coming up with shortcuts and ways to arrive more efficiently at an answer. But I would loose points if I didn't do it the "correct" way. This kind of conformity is why I lost interest in conventional mathematics and went into programming instead. In programming, I actually get

    • My sister teaches math at a small college. A student came to her aghast that she must show her work. When she explained the reasons it was necessary, she took her issue to the head of the math department. When that didn't work she kept moving up the chain of command, eventually talking to the president of the college. When the president backed the teacher, the student dropped out of college.

      I am forever glad my high school math teacher not only forced us to show our work, but work without calculators

    • by hey! (33014) on Tuesday May 17, 2011 @11:17AM (#36154022) Homepage Journal

      Showing steps has its drawbacks too. It biases things towards specific mechanics chosen for either pedagogical purposes or ease of marking rather than practicality or insight. I'll illustrate this with an anecdote.

      Many years ago when I was at MIT, there was a guy in the dorm who always finished his problems sets in a fraction of the time of the rest of us, although he sometimes got marked down for not "showing his work". It turned out he could perform many astonishing feats of algebra in his head. Naturally, my curiosity was aroused, so I questioned him about this. He said he never learned the "proper" ways of doing things because they were so tedious. It was so much easier just to see the answer. Yet while he was intelligent enough, apart from math he didn't seem like a superhuman genius. He'd simply worked out algorithms for doing things that didn't require a lot of working memory, either in his head or (like the rest of us) using paper as supplementary memory. He'd turned a kind of corner in algebra, like the one when you're learning a foreign language and start to think in it instead of translating word by word and puzzling over book grammar. I lost track with this guy after college, and I've often wished that I'd thought to write down the "tricks" he had for simplifying algebra so I could make them available to the world.

      The point of this story isn't that the educational system should be built around the needs of rare individuals like this. It's that it's important for teachers to know their students as individuals. A teacher should be intimately familiar with each student's strengths and weaknesses, and use that knowledge to guide students to mastery of the subject, rather than verifying that the student goes through the same standardized set of motions.

      • When I was a computer science prof, I encountered this problem all the time. It usually boils down to the fact that grad student TA's often only know of one way to solve a problem, and will downgrade if they don't see it. I was always willing to take a second look at these cases.

        The student in question should have taken it to the prof.
      • Your MIT genius is still missing the point. In the real world, its almost never enough simply to be right; you have to show *why* you are right. For mathematical problems, that requires showing your work to a sufficient degree. Again, in the real world, skipping a few steps of simple algebra might be ok. But part of the point of a college class is to train these skills up using simple problems so that you will continue to apply the same principles to hard problems.

        When I was in grad school, I had a situat

        • by hey! (33014)

          That's really not an analogous situation. This guy *was* showing his work, he was using sound but non-standard algorithms, which a few minutes watching him work would demonstrate beyond any reasonable doubt. That's not the same as acting on a hunch you can't justify.

          Yes, there are real world situations where using less than optimal but standard procedures is required. Laboratory work, for example. No doubt there is always some better way to perform a lab analysis, but consistency is paramount when amassi

        • by ultranova (717540)

          In the real world, its almost never enough simply to be right; you have to show *why* you are right.

          In the real world, it almost never matters whether you're right or not, as long as you can bullshit convincingly.

  • I don't see the 'disparity' as much of educational opportunity as economic opportunity. Look at all the college graduates who can not find a decent job.

    The gap between the super rich and the poor & middle class is very large, and getting bigger. This is the real disparity.
    • by dkleinsc (563838)

      Look at all the college graduates who can not find a decent job.

      But of course! How else could you ensure that there was plenty of cheap highly-educated labor available? Without that, my hedge fund returns would be reduced a good 2-5%. And even better, these sorts of programs reduce the need to fund public education, giving me a significant reduction in those pesky property taxes on each of my 7 homes.

      And it's not all bad: I used to have to hire illegal immigrants as my maid / personal masseuse. Now I can get a very nice beautiful Harvard-educated Japanese woman for the

    • by hedwards (940851)

      It is, however, the problem is that at the bottom things are quite competitive and unfortunately at this point you really do need a degree for many jobs. What bothers me is how many jobs list a degree as a requirement when everybody knows that they don't need one, they just put it there so that they can toss any applications by applicants that don't have at least one degree.

  • by jamesl (106902) on Tuesday May 17, 2011 @08:32AM (#36152028)

    Is this posted for information only or is there a point?

  • Gosh, you mean being at a private school that can cherry-pick its students just isn't enough? And serving a public purpose? What the hell? It certainly serves nobody but the elites themselves.

    Yeah, I know, it's not talking about public schools, it's the ancient concept of noblesse oblige. They see themselves as uniquely progressive, and take this wonderfully noble obligation upon themselves to "better" the rest of us. Anyone ever think that the rest of us might have "better" lives if elites just left

    • I'm failing to see the tyranny inherent in private schools deciding to publish some information on the web, for the interested to peruse if they care.
    • by prefec2 (875483)

      A better solution is: A public school system. Owned by the people, controlled by the people. And if some "elite" want better schools, they can donate to the public school system not only to one particular school in a nice district.

      • They already do. My parents paid property taxes year after year after year. Neither my sister nor I ever attended a single day of public school in our hometown. (She did go to a public university.) And, despite having a household income that was within $1000 of the median US household income every year, they paid for private schools, too.
        • by prefec2 (875483)

          Yes. And? You are missing the point. The point is: When rich people or other people who are able to pay for private schools separate their kids from the rest, you get bad schools for people who cannot afford the fees or who do not care where they children go to school. Even more when interested parents have the opportunity to put their children on elite schools, they do so because they want the best for their children. I would most likely act the same. So while this is completely sound from a personal persp

        • by ultranova (717540)

          My parents paid property taxes year after year after year.

          Your parents paying property taxes isn't donating any more than me paying for electricity is.

          • You got the electricity. I didn't get a public education. See the difference?
            • by ultranova (717540)

              You got the electricity. I didn't get a public education. See the difference?

              Your parents (and you) get to live in a society where everyone receives at least basic education. Not only is this absolutely necessary to maintain a technological civilization (which is why there's things like electricity or "median income" rather than a few lords and a lot of serfs), but it also means someone trying to, say, start a witch hunt has a harder time doing so, because they have at least vague recollection that somethi

              • Suit yourself in your assessment of me; it's entirely possible that I'm just an Epsilon-Minus Sub-Moron shifting the elevator up and down, while the guy who troll-mods me is truly brilliant. But if you think witch hunts can't happen in educated society, you really need to take Psych 101. Or study history. Or both.
                • by ultranova (717540)

                  Suit yourself in your assessment of me; it's entirely possible that I'm just an Epsilon-Minus Sub-Moron shifting the elevator up and down, while the guy who troll-mods me is truly brilliant.

                  "Troll" is the closest to "stupid and pointless" moderation Slashdot has, and your "Whatever, Pollyanna" certainly qualifies for that.

                  Also, judging by your comment [slashdot.org] about weeding out the worthless you certainly are either a troll or a genuine psycho. Either way, it seems obvious that you have nothing of worth to say, bes

      • by Korin43 (881732)

        We have two systems -- One that seems to be working and one that doesn't. You propose getting rid of the one that works?

        • by Qzukk (229616)

          We have two systems -- One that seems to be working and one that doesn't. You propose getting rid of the one that works?

          As opposed to getting rid of the one that "doesn't work"?

          Both systems need to stay. Otherwise, where would the "one that works" send the students that don't?

    • by hey! (33014)

      C.S. Lewis, the preeminent Christian apologist and popular moralist of the 20th century, was hardly opposed to the physical or moral betterment of the masses. What he is talking about isn't giving, it's taking with hypocritical, self-serving justification. Most of us are familiar with the King James version of the Second Commandment as "Thou shalt not take the Lord's name in vain." The verb translated as "take" might better be translated as "carry", as in a banner or a tool. So Second Commandment isn't pr

  • I LOL'ed:

    In March, Connie Ballmer noted that Lakeside’s tuition is $8,446-a-year less than the per-student expenses incurred by the school, thanks to the magic of fundraising. Records show that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation contributed $34 million to Lakeside in 2008, and $40 million in 2005, primarily in support of the school’s capital campaigns.

    Yes, there is something truly magical about being able to hold tuition down to $35,000 per year when you have backing from two Microsoft foun

    • by hedwards (940851)

      To be fair, that school has had a number of other wealthy graduates over the years, hardly just two MS founders. Which is sort of the point, the public school system doesn't generally get to benefit from things like endowments and scholarships. Granted there is no tuition, but there is an increasing amount of supplies that parents are being expected to pay for in order to attend classes. It's technically illegal, but with anti-tax morons refusing to fund education it's more or less inevitable that cuts are

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Its nice to see somebody doing the "putting up" part of "put up or shut up" these days.

  • by blackfrancis75 (911664) on Tuesday May 17, 2011 @09:45AM (#36152784)
    like all /. readers, I scanned the article, picked up only the keywords 'Ballmer ' and 'Khan' and hence I feel compelled to make a comment about someone throwing a chair while yelling 'KHAAAaaaan!'
    Thanks for your attention.
  • For what it's worth, IAAMT who has worked with ALEKS [aleks.com] and Khan Academy.

    The Khan Academy videos aren't bad, but they're really just textbooks that move and talk.

    The Khan Academy mastery exercises aren't bad, but they're really just worksheets of arbitrary length. The instant feedback is pretty cool, but it's just a faster way of doing a worksheet and then checking against the teacher's key.

    The instant feedback for a teacher isn't bad, and it makes monitoring student progress more efficient, and making t

    • by rolfwind (528248)

      Yeah, but some students work better that way. If you get down to it, a teacher lecturing isn't much different than a textbook either, except shlee can take questions. And taking questions isn't that great unless you're wondering about the answer too, otherwise it's just breaking your train of thought.

      So, I'd rather have a video that's professionally made (not by professional, but just anticipating what students will ask) and being able to rewind it instead of sitting in a lecturing frantically taking note

    • Which just happens to be how I (and I'm sure some others) learn. It doesn't provide broad teaching methods, but it is great for some of us that learn that way.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Places like Khan Academy cannot ever replace excellent, high level math teachers but most of the world does not have excellent, high level math teachers.

      You get what you pay for and our district pays less than $40k for a new calculus teacher who's getting laid off at the end of the year. His instant feedback took a back seat to job searches and part-time employment to pay the bills. Great guy but seriously stressed.

    • by corbettw (214229)

      The folks behind Khan Academy themselves position their site as a supplement to traditional teaching, not a replacement for it. I view it as a kind of tutoring for my kids, to help them work through some areas where they're struggling. For instance, my daughter (6th grade) was having trouble understanding positive and negative integers, and order of operations. After watching the videos on those subjects and doing the associated exercises, she now has them both down pat and has gotten A's on several tests i

  • I like the idea of reversing the way that most classrooms work today by watching video lectures at home, and then doing homework assignments in the classroom with the teacher available for help (http://www.ted.com/talks/salman_khan_let_s_use_video_to_reinvent_education.html). During school I always had a hard time paying attention to all day lectures which may go too fast or slow for me depending on the topic. Watching the lecture at home would give the chance to pause, rewind, take a break and get a snac

  • Who's Steve Case, Mitt Romney, and Sean Lennon and why should i be interested?
  • Southern Harmon Institute of Technology. That place is the shit, I tell you!

  • by Dr. Spork (142693) on Tuesday May 17, 2011 @11:25AM (#36154126)

    The reaction to Khan and his incredible resources is universal: People applaud and cheerfully encourage him to "keep going"

    Now imagine if the reaction to Linus Torvalds had been the same in 1993. "Neato, Linus! More please! You're really awesome to have done all this yourself!"

    Luckily for the world, that was not the reaction to the release of the Linux source code back then. People were like "Yeah, this is a great start, now let me add something to this so that we can build this into a fully functioning system." To be fair, Linus openly encouraged this and provided a framework for volunteer contributions. Khan doesn't do that, but does nothing to discourage it.

    Yeah, his lessons are the work of one man, but already, they contain like 5% of a full curriculum of education. With 19 other Khans working in their spare time, we could finish the job and release "curriculum 1.0". Then, hopefully, many other Khans would work on augmenting and improving it. But it's almost shocking to me that something this important and easy is not being done. There might even be money in it for a company that releases free/openly licensed teaching material and then administers for-pay achievement tests or certification tests. If this were done right, it would be the obviously right path for gifted students, homeschoolers, and people who lack access to good traditional schools. They could go through the material at their own pace and take certification tests as quickly as they work through the material. Wise governments would even offer them a refund for the cost of tests they passed. It's much cheaper than the same government paying to "school" them.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      What are you on about? I've seen Khan in talks where he discusses others chipping in with their fields of expertise. Those with the skills aren't bothering, they see him as a threat, those without skills who think they have them are submitting awful lessons. Sooner or later someone from a field will come in and do a great job, or the obvious alternative is to stump up some cash through sponsorship and hire someone to do it.

    • by Xacid (560407)

      I just watched Khan's talk on TED in regards to what he's wanting to do with KhanAcademy and I've got to say I'm sold.

      He's not suggesting replacing teachers - he's suggesting using this as one hell of a tool to reclaim our education system. And I've just finished watching through a few of these videos and I've got to say I see a huge amount of potential in this.

      Check it out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gM95HHI4gLk&feature=player_embedded [youtube.com]

  • Parents willing to pay for these schools have high expectations for their children. Some kids are brilliant by birth. Most are brilliant by good mentoring. And parents are the most readily available mentors.

    Kids in the US generally do poorly because we just want them to feel good about themselves, even if they stink at math. Parents of many countries expect A's, not C's. The parents who pay for these schools expect A's, and they don't expect to get them by passing failing kids and rubber stamping A's.

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