Schools of the Past – Schools of the Future

Salman Kahn responding to question on Google Play
  • Schools of the past
    • Not based on how humans actually learn
    • groups of kids in age-based cohorts
    • Assessment is used as a value judgment on a student’s intelligence
    • An artifact of Prussian society at the advent of the industrial revolution
    • Structured toward a manufacturing model
    • Lack of deep learning
    • Students take subjects with superficial understanding: algebra 1, Algebra 2, Trigonometry etc.
  • Schools of the future
    • Self paced, allowing for individual learning paths
    • Individualized assessments
    • Free access to on-demand/online tools
    • True differentiation
    • 8-5 school day with only 2 hours of core academic “instruction”
    • No such thing as missing class
    • If family visits another city or country, student can plug into another school
    • No longer a “seat based” system
    • Students will attain mastery at different levels and interests

I was recently invited to join a Google forum for questions and answers with Salman Kahn. Famous for his world-renowned website, Kahn Academy, Salman Kahn has recently authored a new book, The One World Schoolhouse: Education Reimagined, which addresses a major question facing educators: How will schools support today’s and tomorrow’s learners in ten, twenty or thirty years?

I had opportunity to pose this question directly to Mr. Kahn during this live online forum. His answers, summarized above, were illuminating and thought-provoking, and point the way towards how schools of the future may look.

To view the entire forum with Salmon Kahn click here: Google Play presents: Salman Khan of Khan Academy


  1. Kahn Academy is an excellent example of Harvard Business School professor, Clay Christensen’s work described in his recent book, “Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns.” I want to expand on Sunil’s incisive comment.

    I think we all are born with our own special capability. Think of it as your personal essence. When you connect that ability with a need in the world, providing a product or a service that makes it a better place in which to live, you inevitably discover passion because you have found your life purpose. This leads to gratitude and long-lasting happiness. Isn’t that what we really want in life? As proposed by Paulo Coelho in The Alchemist, I believe that we discover our essence when we are young.

    Somewhere between the ages of five and fifteen, perhaps expressed in an unusual manner, you knew exactly what you were good at and what area of professional pursuit was best for you and for the world around you. Studies have shown that the prime reason for this is that children in this age range want two things. They want to be with their friends and they want to feel good about themselves. The best way for them to accomplish the latter is to do what they are passionate about and what they are really good at. At this stage in their lives, they’re not distracted by pursuits that promise loads of money or power and prestige. They want their peers to like them, and they want to love what they do. So mechanically-adept children impress their friends by what they can fix and build. Artistically well-endowed children wow themselves and others with their skills in the arts, and so on.

    The problem has been that if your intended life purpose does not line up with what society considers “success,” you will often be talked out of it; sometimes by well-intended persons wanting to be sure that you achieve “success.” It makes no sense at all for musically passionate and gifted student to become a banker, if banking is not his or her passion. In addition to creating innovative means of teaching and learning, we might consider how best to counsel students so that they find, follow and revel in their passion, pursuing their true life purpose, an excellent means to personal and professional fulfillment.


  2. Each child has personal dreams and intrinsic motivation to make those dreams come true. And yet how often are childrean allowed to pursue their dreams as they get older. Instead they are asked to focus on educational activities that will allow them to “earn a living” in the future. Isn’t it more important to ask our children “what are you passionate about”, “what contribution do you want to make to make in the world”, “what is an art or trade you want to perfect”, or “what legacy do you want to leave behind”? I would like to see education move towards a model of bring out the best in children, so they can freely, and with confidence, become who they want to be, utilize all of their talents, and make positive contributions to the world along the way. I believe Mr. Khan’s vision of schools of the future is a step in that direction and I am happy to see people having these open discussions about how to improve education.


  3. This will also need to happen to our special needs students. Teacher need to see the big picture on how students learn and not just teach for a test. Students love to learn, but we make learning a chore and frustrate them. Project, students dreams for their future need to be heard by educators. We have forgotten to listen and ask for student ideas and input. Technology can help us in so many ways but teachers and parents are the last group to accept change. Parents want their children to be taught the way they were taught. To change our system we need to show results by assessment that improve our economy, then you will see real change in education.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.