CAE Reading and Use of English Part 5
You are going to read a magazine article about Khan Academy, an online project. For questions 31-36, choose the answer (A, B, C or D) which you think fits best according to the text.
The man who wants to teach the world
Helena de Bertodano meets Salman Khan.
What Salman Khan, the founder of the non-profit online school Khan Academy has to say to the parent of an eleven-year-old in the USA is frankly terrifying: ‘If your child is not placed in the fast track for math in sixth grade, his chances of becoming a doctor or an engineer are probably zero. And it’s decided when he’s eleven years old.’
This is exactly what happened to his cousin Nadia. Usually a straight-A student, she had done poorly in a maths streaming test in sixth grade because she had failed to understand one concept. This one test result, Khan says, might have harmed her academic destiny. Nadia’s distraught mother turned to Khan for help. Khan tutored her remotely over the phone and Nadia passed her retake with flying colours. Soon, many more relations and friends wanted Khan’s help. Unable to handle the volume of requests, at the suggestion of a friend, he started to record his lessons on video and post them on YouTube. ‘At first I was dismissive,’ Khan says. ‘I thought YouTube was for dogs on skateboards.’
Now Khan has more than 3,000 videos to his name, which are watched by nearly three million unique users a month, via YouTube and his own website. His friendly, avuncular style, coupled with his knack for making difficult concepts seem simple, has helped children – and adults – all over the world move into the fast track. He says his aim is to create ‘the world’s first free, world-class, virtual school where anyone can learn anything’. Some teachers are wary of him, thinking that he is trying to supplant them, but many more embrace his approach and have started ‘flipping’ the classroom, encouraging students to watch Khan’s videos at home and then tackling maths problems together in class.
You might expect a man with such influence to have state-of-the-art headquarters but Khan’s premises are unprepossessing. Arriving at an unmarked red door, sandwiched between a clothes shop and a Chinese restaurant, I decide I have the wrong address – especially after ringing the bell for ten minutes with no response. Eventually, I rouse someone on the telephone and the door is opened. When his assistant shows me in, Khan appears at first to be slightly annoyed at this interruption. Sitting on a leather swivel chair behind a heavy oak desk surrounded by pictures of his wife – a doctor – and their two young children, he continues to work for a few minutes. But once he warms up, it becomes clear that the initial awkwardness is down to shyness, not rudeness. ‘I’m not very good when people want to meet me,’ he says. ‘I want to hide a little bit.’
Khan believes that the rigidity of the school system is outdated and deadens a child’s natural curiosity. ‘Aged one to four, kids are excited by anything new, they want to figure it out, then all of a sudden, when they turn five, you start seeing fewer curious kids, by nine or ten you see very few with any curiosity, and by eighteen it’s very much the exception. Curiosity is just stamped out of them. I’m convinced it’s indoctrination, not a genetic thing. Kids are herded together, the bell rings, you’re rewarded for passivity, you’re rewarded for compliance, that’s what keeps you moving through the system.’
Private school education makes little difference, he says. Nor does he believe that student-teacher ratio is an issue. ‘The idea that smaller classes will magically solve the problem of students being left behind is a fallacy. ’ As he points out, if a teacher’s main job is lecturing to the students, it doesn’t really matter how many students are in the classroom. What matters is the ‘student-to-valuable-human-time-with-teacher’ ratio. What his videos do, Khan says, is free teachers up for more personal interaction.
He thinks bigger classes with more teachers would provide a more creative learning ground. In his ideal classroom there would be 75-100 students of widely varying ages, with three or four teachers. Some students would be working at computers; others would be learning economics through board games; others would be building robots or designing mobile apps; others would be working on art or creative writing. His dream is nothing short of revolutionary.
‘In 500 years I hope people look back and say, “Imagine, kids had to learn in classrooms that were like factories and it was unheard of for an eight-year-old to truly, deeply understand quantum physics. Isn’t that strange?
31 Why did Khan initially start to record videos?
It was easier to explain concepts in a video than on the phone.
It enabled him to advertise his services worldwide.
It was impossible for him to respond personally to each request for assistance.
It was a more popular medium for young people to use.
32 One value of the videos is that they can
be used as an additional tool for teachers in class.
be shown to students as a reward for hard work.
act as a substitute for formal learning.
help students prepare for a topic they will study.
33 When visiting Khan the writer is
annoyed by Khan’s lateness.
surprised by Khan’s choice of location.
embarrassed by the way Khan addresses him.
impressed by the style of furnishings in Khan’s home.
34 The writer mentions different children’s ages to illustrate his idea that
it is quite natural for children to grow disillusioned with formal education.
the older a child is, the less able they are to assimilate new information.
a child’s growing lack of interest in learning is a result of experience at school.
younger children need more motivation to remain interested in education.
36 When Khan compares classrooms to factories in the final paragraph, he is implying that
classrooms produced what industry demanded.
children were part of an inflexible system.
teaching methodology produced student clones.
small numbers of teachers dealt with large numbers of students.