In the middle of the homeschool day when he was supposed to be doing homeschool lessons, I looked over to see my fourteen year old son watching a video on his laptop with headphones on. I was immediately worried that he was sneaking entertainment videos. I asked what he was doing. He replied, "Watching a TED talk with Salman Khan".
Oh. Okay. (Wow.)
I guess we're headed in the right direction when a fourteen year old finds and watches TED videos on his own.
I've shared here already that my sixth grader is using only Khan Academy for math this year (after quitting Teaching Textbooks 7 in the fall). My older son, the fourteen year old, was discussing Khan Academy with his friend. Why?
They are a family we know from Boy Scouts. The mom called me and asked me for advice about math for her tenth grade (schooled) son. She said she felt he had gaps and holes in his math like swiss cheese from instruction received at schools in England last year and prior. She felt he was very good at math, naturally, and used to be 'ahead', but had been the victim of poor instruction. She was considering homeschooling. I suggested free Khan Academy to help him, right now, not just when and if they did decide to start homeschooling. I said to try it for 30 minutes a night in addition to his normal high school homework load. I felt it would find his gaps and fill them and could help him while he was in school this year (regardless of whether they wound up homeschooling or not). She said she'd try and would also suggest that her younger son try it too.
The 10th grade schooled kid gave it a try. Surprisingly the 7th grade brother tried it and loved it and chose to do Khan Academy for more than the 30 minutes a day that his mother suggested. (Both kids hated math as it was being taught in school.) That younger kid liked it so much he is now asking to be homeschooled for 8th grade because "I realize how important learning what I need to know for college is, and it worries me to think that school may not teach me what I need to know to do what I want to do for the rest of my life". Wow.
After that, the 7th grade boy then had discussions with my son saying how fun he thought Khan Academy's math was.
So here's the video from TED 2011 with Salman Khan that my fourteen year old watched. When my eleven year old saw it, he sat down to watch it also. Then I watched it.
I note at around minute 14 he analyzed kid's progress with using the program. He notes that kids at the beginning who would have been labeled "slow learners" caught up at a certain point and then they appeared as if "gifted". Self-directed learning was praised as a way to help the kids who need some extra practice in some areas, then take off later and are doing just as well as the "gifted" kids were.