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November 15, 2011 / compassioninpolitics

Answering the Criticism of the Khan Academy: Whither Constructivism?

Its a fair criticism to say Khan doesn’t have an MA in education. Its also fair to say he sees his solution as blended with others. You can still be a techno-constructivist. You can still have lectures and be a constructivist. I recently watched Khan on a Stanford panel on the future of education and it seems like he’s done a bit of research and he’s certainly spent some time in the classroom. In terms of this technology vs. constructivism or Khan vs. constructivism debate….perhaps its best to listen to what Cory Booker said on the panel….”thats its time to move beyond ideology…and focus on the pragmatic of what works.” (paraphrase). I had some very constructivist teachers in junior high and high school….but none of them failed to give lectures. Lectures can also provide some context to learning in a constructivist way (you don’t just automatically learn the pythagorean theorem or the quadratic equation), some instruction and demonstration is first necessary (aka novice instruction or learning on a given sub-topic). In fact, the way Khan has positioned his technology, he sees it as allowing more flexibility in the classroom….be that 1 on 1 tutoring or project based learning. Whats more, Khan is replacing existing lecture format (or just “read the textbook to solve your problem”)….so he’s not much of a challenge to constructivists.

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