10 Jul

General Comments on Tutoring

For anybody interested in looking further into what methods of instruction should be used in schooling i would recommend a book called “The One World Schoolhouse” by Salman Khan. Salman Khan is already quite popular due to his website (www.khanacademy.org) and channel full of youtube videos about virtually any subject  around from college level math all the way up to some basic French history. If you are a high school student struggling with math you would probably find the site particularly useful and informative.


One of the ideas which Khan addresses is the idea for lack of a better expression of “flipping the classroom”. Khan points out it is wholly illogical for class time to consist mainly of students sitting down listening to a teacher lecturing and passively trying to absorb information by osmosis. The student is then sent back home entirely on their own to complete “homework” where they usually have no help and therefore it is not uncommon for the student to struggle. This is because during the more active phase which is actually the solving problems part or the ‘homework’ the student is expected to work in isolation.

Khan proposes the solution is the following. Make the lecture which was previously done in class by a teacher standing in front of a large group of people the ‘homework’ (via youtube) and make the problem solving where students and teachers are free to interact on a personal level the class work. Students and teachers Khan argues will therefore have the ability to address difficulties as they are occurring. The argument also contends that this will have the added benefit of liberating teachers from the tedious chores of lecturing and having to keep order and allow them to actually help individual students who need help as well as not boring students who may have gone ahead.


Khan also addresses some classic misconceptions and red herrings in the overly politicised aspect of our culture known as education. The first misconception is the classic media obsession that spending more money on education will make any difference to the quality of test results. Khan uses reliable statistics to show that this is utterly false. Khan also subtly ridicules the idea that test prep factories or rote memorisation is any good.  He argues “rote memorisation can not remove the wall only push it back”.

The other point that Khan makes is that it is a misconception to believe that the amount of homework assigned has a correlation with the quality or rigor of the work. We have all had the experience i am sure of lacking motivation to do a task not because it was too difficult but rather because we felt it was “busywork”. Greece sets a lot of homework however does not test particularly well and Scandinavian countries set little yet test quite well.

If you do not read this book then i would like to ask students, teachers and parents who have not already done so to check out his site.



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