The Khan-math story cannot be shrugged off as merely being more of the same bad "math-ed" virus that long has permeated the nation. It is uniquely dangerous ... but also has the potentials for nurturing great progress.
True math-educators tend to focus on the math-ed information which Khan provides to his viewers. But apart from his presentations, the instructional technology that he has developed can greatly expedite national and personal efforts to teach/learn good math or bad math, depending on the instructional goals ... healthy or unhealthy efforts, depending on the instructional strategies, and collateral effects (e.g. "math anxiety").
But let's be fair. Khan was an engineering student who was reared through the American traditional public perceptions of what "mathematics" is and how it should be taught. He is contributing a demonstration of how America's traditional curricular math-story [good, bad, or whatever it is] can be couched into a particular technological format. He is a *camera* ... a video-disseminator of what he has been taught. He did NOT write the mathematical scripts ... and must not be blamed for their math-ed flaws. In fact (unlike so many "experts"), Kahn might still be educable ... or responsive to enlightened guidance for improving the quality of his math library ... from those who can offer something better than complaints.
The threat is not that his present kind of "education" in what he presently thinks is "mathematics" might infect the system. Way too late for that. The system long has been thoroughly infected by the same "parrot virus". The danger is that Khan (like many others before him) has unleashed a *better, more effective, more efficient way of doing a job* . He is using it for a job that most math teachers already are trying to do ... a parrot-training job whose doings continue to cultivate a national educational disaster. The same technology also could be used for much healthier purposes.
The danger is that, on the wings of a better *instructional media* technology, our students, citizens, and nation now can be even faster headed toward further worsening an already horrible situation. The "harnessing" challenge is clear: use the same instructional-media technology to do what *should* be done ... perhaps even by educating Kahn.
From: Jack Rotman Sent: Thursday, September 08, 2011 6:54 AM To: Petrak, Daniel G. ; Clyde Greeno @ MALEI ; Alain Schremmer ; firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: RE: Khan Academy: Math instruction goes viral > backlash >and an alternative
Although I am not a 'fan' of the Khan videos, I am sure that mathematics is not any more threatened by them . than we are by our own history.
I would encourage people to take a look at some of the efforts to replace what history has provided with something more powerful for our students. My own efforts have focused on developmental mathematics, such as the New Life project:
The New Life project of AMATYC is very closely related to the "Pathways" efforts of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching (http://www.carnegiefoundation.org/developmental-math); the QuantwayT and StatwayT curriculum imbed the same learning outcomes as the New Life 'Mathematical Literacy for College Students' (>90% overlap in outcomes).
Comparable 'movements' have been around for mathematics above developmental; in particular, AMATYC has a "right stuff" project for college algebra (as opposed to pre-calculus). See www.therightstuff.amatyc.org/
Don't waste time and effort whining about some media sensation; don't waste time and effort worrying about whether the latest fad will finally exterminate all vestiges of intelligence among our students. DO something to build a better world, starting in your own classrooms and departments.
Professor, Department of Mathematics
Lansing Community College
-----Original Message----- From: email@example.com [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org] On Behalf Of Petrak, Daniel G. Sent: Wednesday, September 07, 2011 9:15 AM To: Clyde Greeno @ MALEI; Alain Schremmer; email@example.com Subject: RE: Khan Academy: Math instruction goes viral > backlash
I think Clyde is right on here. The entrenched misconception of what mathematics is hurting our students. The reasons we all fell in love with the subject are not being perpetuated very well in our classrooms. I think technology like the Khan academy may enable us to shift what we do and what we demand from our students. We are hopefully being freed from the mundane, low level, procedural aspects of our subject and allowed to push our students thinking up Bloom's taxonomy. The role of faculty (especially in developmental mathematics) has been very focused on procedures and manipulation. I think these new tools can help us shift some of these responsibilities to software and change our role as faculty. I am curious to see what you all think.
Des Moines Area Community College
Associate Professor of Mathematics/
Faculty Liaison to Distance Education
From: firstname.lastname@example.org [email@example.com] on behalf of Clyde Greeno @ MALEI [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Wednesday, September 07, 2011 12:54 AM
To: Alain Schremmer; email@example.com
Subject: Re: Khan Academy: Math instruction goes viral > backlash
Alain, Roy, et al:
Unfortunately, the greater and more serious dilemma is that "Khan
mathematics" is a relatively accurate picture of what today's American
public (and most of its educators) have been led to mean by "mathematics"
and by "education in mathematics". That is largely why the USA lags in
mathematics ... and why most students flee from the mathematics curriculum
ASAP ... and why most Americans become victims of "math anxiety" before
ceasing their formal schooling. Quite bluntly, it is a woefully UNHEALTHY
kind of robotic training.
The only hope is for the college/university community to catalyze nationwide
dissemination and use of healthier, enlightened, and more realistic
perceptions of what "education" in "mathematics" SHOULD be all about. But
alas, most college/university professors were
"education" in Kahn-type "mathematics" ... and their proposed "educational
reforms" typically are about how to more effectively produce Khan-type
"education" in Khan-type "mathematics". Does any other nation rely on a
better perception of "education in mathematics"?
So, the impetus for nationwide reorientation must come from a
college/university *minority* whose humanitarian concerns ... couched in
sociological, philosophical, and psychomathematical considerations ... are
strong enough to override the traditions through which they arrived. Is any
such "fratority" even on the visible horizon?
Might the cyber-visibility and the increasing notoriety of "Khan mathematics
education" catalyze the sorely needed backlash ... through emergence of the
needed conclave? Who would even want to belong to such an academic
fellowship for re-orienting American education in mathematics?