SAL KHAN: Humanity is entering some type of new phase. Even something as light as YouTube, when you really think about it, it’s going to go down in history with writing, the printing press, as a new phase. But at the same time, the current form of education’s about 200 years old. Education is something that we just assume because we all grew up in it. Let’s reimagine education.

Let’s imagine what schooling could and should look like given the needs of the future and also the tools at our disposal. With the Internet, we can literally connect the world through learning. I think I’ve always been drawn to science fiction because it really does challenge you to think how could the world be? When the whole Khan Academy thing started to happen, I think one of the unique things that, to some degree, allowed me and Khan Academy to have our own lane is that we started having more of this almost science fiction view. Hey, instead of Khan Academy just being a piece of software or a piece of content, could it be the next Oxford, the next Smithsonian? Could it help us elevate to another level so that the time we live in

now feels like a dark ages in a 100 years or 200 years?

My name is Sal Khan, and I’m the founder and CEO of both Khan Academy and

NARRATOR: Take a moment and remember your favorite teacher. Now imagine that teacher could reach not 30 kids in a classroom, but millions of students all over the world. That’s exactly what Sal Khan is doing on his website, Khan Academy.

KHAN: Back in 2004, my family was visiting me in Boston, and my aunt told me that my cousin was having trouble in math. And when I asked Nadia what was going on, Nadia said, “I’m just not a math person.” When someone says, “I’m not good at math,” I immediately think they just haven’t looked at it the right way or their self-esteem has been shot because either they themselves

have been telling themselves or other people have been telling them that they’re not good at it. And what I’ve seen over and over again, it has nothing to do with innate ability.

So for the next several months, Nadia was in New Orleans, I was in Boston, remotely tutoring her, and I had five virtual classrooms, which were essentially these digital scratchpads. I could tell Nadia, “Meet me in classroom five.” And what that meant is I could be in Boston, she was in New Orleans, but at classroom five, we would hear each other’s voices, and if one of us wrote with a digital pen, the other one would see it. We started making progress. She got caught up with her class. She frankly got a little ahead of her class, and by quirk of how my mind works, I am always thinking, “Well, hey, this is working for my cousin, could it work for 10 cousins? Hey, if it’s working for them, could it work for people who aren’t my cousins? Could it work for 10 million people? Could it work for a billion people?”

So in 2009, I quit my day job.I set it up as a not-for-profit with a mission of free, world-class education for anyone anywhere. A little delusional for a guy operating out of a walk-in closet at the time. And so, in that early version of Khan Academy, I was imagining it would be a place where we can connect as human beings and learn from each other. Now, as Khan Academy grew, and, you know, now it’s 120 million registered users, 20, 30 million come every month from all over the world, we lost that person-to-person functionality, but it’s always been in the back of my mind. And that’s where comes into the picture. The pandemic hits, and Khan Academy’s traffic goes to the roof. We’ve always known well before the pandemic that small group tutoring is really the gold standard. There’s actually a lot of research papers that even small group tutoring by someone who learned the same material last semester or last year can actually be highly effective, and in some cases, even more effective. And so I started reaching out to some friends and say, “Couldn’t we build a prototype of a platform where folks who need help in a topic could say they need help?

And that other people, high-quality, vetted tutors could say, ‘Yes, I could run a small group tutoring session on that topic.’ And by the end of the summer, it was working. We were getting amazing stories. 13 and 14-year-olds helping people who are in their 50s try to get their high school diploma. We’re seeing people in very disparate conditions, economic strata, life stages, cultures being able to connect and empathize with each other around meaningful work that

matters for both of them. We were seeing that it is actually possible to scale up tutoring by

leveraging people’s willingness to do good for others. When started, I thought the game-changing aspect of it would be that we have figured out a way to scale high-quality tutoring. But I actually think the real game-changer is when we’re able to connect

with other human beings.

When that other human being genuinely says, “Thank you. You just changed my life. You just unlocked my mind. I will never forget what you just did.”

NARRATOR: What do you think education will look like in 1000 years?

KHAN: I like to think on multiple scales. So, you know, to answer your question, 1000 years, I don’t know. You know, with CRISPR and genetic engineering, we might be able to download knowledge, take a pill, who knows, we’ll be in some virtual reality, if assuming humanity keeps progressing. But I think over the next, let’s call it 30 to 50 years, I think we’re going to have a world where anyone on the planet is going to have access to all the core academic material and non-academic material they need to be a fully actualized person.

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