December 19, 2011

Why Khan and my wife are the two most amazing people I know!

I don’t know Professor Khan.  Not personally, anyway.

But he’s had a profound affect on my kids lives.  Heck, I wish he’d been around when I was a kid.

So if you don’t know him, you should.

You see, he created a university of learning for kids online.  Not only that but he’s done it for free and raised millions of dollars so it can stay free and keep improving.  In fact, he’s attracted donors like Bill Gates.

Yeah, that guy.

You see, Khan’s idea was that classroom time should be about working on the struggle points with the teacher.  Using the teacher as a tutor rather than lecturing you like your dad after you spilled the milk.  Did you ever listen to your Dad’s lectures?  Yeah, I didn’t either.

Khan created these informative lectures about school topics so kids could watch them the night before class, stopping and rewinding when they needed to without fear of retribution (ever interrupt a teacher for a question in the middle of a lecture? Hmm…we’ll leave that one alone.)

Using Khan’s videos, kids can show up to class all ready to work and all at the same place.  So teachers aren’t “teaching to the worst student.”  He calls it flipping the classroom.

The other innovation of Khan’s is to use the things in gaming that addict us like badges and trophies.  These little things give kids constant positive feedback.  How many of us have stayed awake until 2am playing “one more game” of Angry Birds trying to make the next level.  Yeah, learning can be like that.

Flashback to my school years.  I got in trouble, a lot.  I mean A LOT.  School was boring for a hyper boy with too many thoughts in his head.  Khan could have saved me a lot of detention.

Thankfully, Khan Academy exists for my kids.  That’s why he’s the second most important person for my kids education.

Who’s the first?

My wife.

She gave up a career and a large portion of her sanity to be a home schooling mom.  When the school system failed our children, she took the reins and never looked back.  If you’d met our children, you’d know how good she is at her job (and it’s the most important job!)

But not every parent can afford to take off work to home school.  That’s where Khan comes in.  Games are a central part of how we learn.  It’s wired into our brains.  Using the “addictive” qualities of games can help kids learn.  Trust me, I know about “addictive qualities.”  I’m a gamer.  I write novels about gaming and how amazing technology changes our lives.

My kids are gamers, too.  Khan gamers.  Just the other day my son was doing math at8pm. 8pm!  He was excited about doing math problems and just couldn’t stop.

People say the education system is broken.  It is.  But systems are made of people and those people are us.  If we approach teaching our children like Khan and my wife, then it won’t be broken for long.


Thomas K. Carpenter

Thomas K. Carpenter is a full time contemporary fantasy author with over 50 independently published titles. His bestselling, multi-series universe, The Hundred Halls, has over 25 books and counting. His stories focus on fantastic families, magical academies, and epic adventures.

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