The One World Schoolhouse: Education Reimagined
By Salman Khan
Twelve Books, $26.99, hardcover; 12.99, digitalCHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Salman Khan, 36-year-old founder of the Khan Academy, is the son of a father from Bangladesh and a mother from India, married in an arranged wedding.
Khan holds three degrees from MIT in mathematics, electrical engineering and computer science and an MBA from Harvard Business School.
Khan's fascination with Internet-based learning commenced in 2004, when as a hedge-fund analyst, he began from afar tutoring his cousin Nadia in mathematics over the internet using Yahoo!'s Doodle notepad. After other relatives and friends sought his online tutoring, in late 2006, Khan decided to distribute his tutorials on YouTube.
The popularity of his Internet-based tutorials developed rapidly. In 2009, Khan quit his job to focus on his YouTube channel, Khan Academy, full time.
The Academy has become the largest school in the world, at 10 million students strong, and the most popular education site on the Web. It has a library of over 3,500 short instructional videos on a variety of subjects, in dozens of languages, along with interactive quizzes and tools for teachers to chart student progress.
A nonprofit, the Khan Academy's funding comes from philanthropists, among them the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which has provided over $5.5 million. The Academy's mission is "a free world-class education for anyone anywhere."
Khan's book focuses on what we now call K-12 education and is in large measure a description of the traditional classroom (the Standard Model) and its shortcomings and of his alternative, Computer-Based, Self-Paced Mastery Learning (the Self-Paced Model), and its strengths, as he sees them.
The standard model has one advantage, Khan says. "It's There. It's in place. It has tenure. The tendency is to believe it has to be there."
Many of the currently-recognized features of the Standard Model, as well as compulsory, tax-supported public education, originated in 18th-century Prussia, and were put in place in the United States with few modifications in the first half of the 1800's, largely due to the influence of Horace Mann, then the Secretary of Education for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.