Time to move on from traditional teacher training

Salman Khan explains how the online revolution can make a free, world-class education available to everyone in The One World School House: Education Reimagined.

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The One World School House: Education Reimagined
Salman Khan
Hodder & Stoughton

A free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere: this is the somewhat ambitious mission statement of the Khan Academy, an online school set up by the ex-hedge fund analyst Salman Khan, who, with no form al teacher training, went on to help educate more than six million students via his virtual online tutoring sessions that have been viewed more than 140 million times.

His question is simple - do our standard classroom models, based on a concept developed in 19th-century Prussia which focuses on lecturing, solitary homework and standardised testing, still make sense in the digital age?

His concept involves freeing teachers from the regimented educational calendar, thereby opening class time for discussion and creative exploration. In a nutshell, children conduct their schooling at home and their "homework" at school.

Like many innovators, Khan focuses on the bigger picture, but fails on a few basic and fundamental needs. There is no doubt that a lot of this will be regarded with much scepticism. "Who knows where genius will crop up? There may be a young girl in an African village with the potential to find a cancer cure. How can we justify not offering children a world-class education?"

It is a statement, like Khan himself, that is perhaps a little utopian in its ideologies, but a truism nonetheless.