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The Math of Khan

The Math of Khan


Damn it, Jim. I’m a doctor, not a mathematician!

Whether you love it or hate it, it is arguably one of the most important subjects to learn for success in life. The laws of mathematics are evident everywhere in our world; in nature, in the technology we use, throughout our every day lives. It even influences how we think!

It’s easy to get discouraged when your child innocently asks you to help them with their math homework. Those memories of pop-quizzes, confusion and uncomfortable conversations with your parents over a test score come flooding back like a bad case of diarrhea.

Deep breaths. You DO understand math.

For example; we all have a working knowledge of one: quantity. We mostly understand the concepts of structure, shape, change, and chance. Let me just state those in important-sounding ‘Math’ terms – Algebra, Geometry, Calculus and Statistics.

Our math vocabulary shapes what we’re capable of thinking about. What we call “Math” are just the ideas we haven’t yet internalized.

As an example; multiplication and division, which eluded geniuses a few thousand years ago, are now homework for grade schoolers. Why? Because, we have better ways to think about numbers.

While many may complain that math is boring or complicated, the truth is that a life devoid of math means that we go around experiencing the world on a much less interesting level than we could! Math is all around us and helps us understand the world better.

Got it…but I still choke when doing fractions

Let me introduce you to an amazing online resource that can help not only your child, but you as well, overcome your fear and confusion of mathematics.

Let Khan Academy guide you

If you haven’t already heard about it through your social media feeds or from friends or colleagues, it is a personalized learning resource for all ages.

“ Khan Academy offers practice exercises, instructional videos, and a personalized learning dashboard that empower learners to study at their own pace in and outside of the classroom.

Our math missions guide learners from kindergarten to calculus using state-of-the-art, adaptive technology that identifies strengths and learning gaps. “

They have partnered with institutions like NASA, The Museum of Modern Art, The California Academy of Sciences, and MIT to offer specialized content. They also have received grants from Google and the Gates Foundation to continue to build out the organization.

If you are curious about the founder, Salman “Sal” Khan’s story – click here  or view his TED Talk:

On to the Benefits:

1. Khan Academy is free

Learning on Khan Academy is always free! All of Khan Academy’s library of trusted, standards-aligned videos, articles, practice questions and lessons are completely free for anyone who wants to use them. They are on a mission to provide a FREE world-class education for anyone, anywhere.

2. Your child can learn at their own pace

Khan Academy’s math exercises stretch from basic arithmetic through advanced calculus and focus on personalized learning. Your child can learn with subject-based missions at a pace that is suitable to them.

If your child has significant gaps in their math knowledge, you may want them to work on Early Math, Arithmetic, or Pre-algebra, building firm foundations but also boosting their confidence. Also, if you child is excelling in math, they can move forward pushing their boundaries without having to wait for others to catch up. It is truly built for your child to move at their own pace.

3. Challenges are not based on competition with others, but themselves.

Khan Academy is not just about test scores and aptitude, but also about creating an environment that every student can thrive and achieve. Self-limiting thinking is not only a problem for some kids; most people are held back in some way by their mindset. With Khan’s online program, it is challenging, forcing your child to get up and try again. But, these ‘mistakes’ or ‘failures’ are not held up in a way that is humiliating or public. They are simply learning events that your child can work at to overcome on their own. It builds confidence, not just in math, but also in themselves!

4. Reinforces the importance of a growth mindset

One of the most important, and sometimes most difficult, thing to do is to get them to take ownership of their own learning. Children with a growth mindset have a greater chance of success than those with a fixed mindset. Teaching your child about this concept has the potential to make them more positive, perseverant, and successful.

With Khan Academy, every child gets an avatar that ‘grows’ or evolves as they earn more ‘energy’ points and advance through the program. They can also unlock new background images and earn badges for completing certain course units, tutorials or special activities. Placing the opportunity of gaining those rewards in their hands, not just doled out by teachers or you.

5. Parents receive reports on each child

As a parent, you can monitor your child’s progress as a ‘coach’. You receive emails to find out how much time your child is spending on Khan Academy, what they’re practicing, and where they are struggling.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that you are working on the problems with them, but you can encourage your child and monitor their progress. Khan Academy even has a section that teaches you how to support learners even when you don’t know the content. Which is brilliant!

Learn more about Parents and Mentors here.

6. Video tutorials that walk through each concept

One of the advantages of learning from Khan is the nature in which each video tutorial is presented. The videos are presented in a conversational form as if the pupil is receiving one-on-one instruction with step-by-step doodles. Your child can start and stop the video or replay if there is a topic that is particularly challenging.

7. You’re joining a global classroom

Millions of students from all over the world, each with their own unique story, learn at their own pace on Khan Academy every single day. Khan Academy has been translated into more than 36 languages so far. Math is not just for the  20+ students in your child’s classroom or the 100+ kids in your child’s class. Math is universal and worldwide. You child is part of something much greater. They are part of a global community of learners. That’s pretty cool!

8. Expands into other subjects – not just math

We are not encouraging you to only use Khan Academy as your tutor of choice, but there are quite a few topics other than math that this site offers. From organic chemistry, physics and computer programming to history, finance and macroeconomics, this site covers a wide variety of topics you child might find interesting. There is even a section that highlights interviews with top entrepreneurs like Elon Musk (TESLA), Scott Cook (Intuit), Ben Milne (Dwolla) and Sir Richard Branson (Virgin Group), inspiring your child to think beyond school and into their future in the work force.

For free. For everyone. Forever.

The fact that we have an online resource like Khan Academy, which offers an amazing, credible and reliable resource for learning, makes me grateful every day that we live in this day and age. For an organization to provide free information in a world, which is usually loaded with fees, costs and subscriptions, is refreshing.

I personally love their statement…

“No ads, no subscriptions. We are a not‑for‑profit because we believe in a free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere. “

To that, may we all live long and prosper!

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