School should work more like martial arts, says Sal Khan

Khan academy is doing big things in . We want to know what you think: is this “simple solution” too simple or radical enough to make a difference in your classroom?

Otherwise known as “Mastery Learning”, there is a lot of data to suggest that this can work. And we also know that real world teachers have the real insight into initiatives like this. So let’s hear it!

Suppose a student gets a 75% on a test, which is a passing grade. Khan says this means the student didn’t learn 25% of the material, yet they’re expected to move on to the next lesson with the rest of the class.

The education system should work the same way as martial arts or mastering a musical instrument, he says: Practice your white belt skills until they’re perfect, then move up to the yellow belt; practice the beginner piece until you nail it, then move on to the more advanced song; don’t move onto calculus if you haven’t mastered algebra and trigonometry.

A lot of research out there backs up Khan’s idea. Students that don’t move onto the next lesson until they master the first often perform better later in their education career than peers who are arbitrarily shoved along from grade to grade.


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