I am surprised that you did not see this as a big breakthrough for homeschooling.
I think the series is a positive thing for homeschooling. It is one more resource that parents can use... and you can’t have too much learning. I’ve watched some of Kahn’s videos and the ones I’ve seen are good.
I’m just not excited about “new” tools for teaching.
Smart kids can be just left alone with books and will progress far faster than in a lecture setting. But the education will be greatly enhanced if from time to time there is discussion with a teacher. This was the traditional “reading” of a course of study.
The “average” student can learn in the same manner, they just will not progress as fast.
All students will learn faster with more interaction with a teacher for explanations and clarifications; the faster students will just be on a faster pace. The teacher just has to resist student efforts to manipulate the teacher into being a substitute for their own reading and work.
Teaching the unmotivated is a fool’s errand, the student has to be motivated to learn. Lack of motiviation is one of the largest problems with public schools.
I see math textbooks today crowded with color pictures. Textbook designers are borrowing from the marketer’s knowledge that color and movement fascinate small children; the boneheads therefore try to make courses “exciting” and “fun”. Which leads the attention away the actual subject and towards the pretty pictures.
Math is math. I had a geometry teacher who used pencils and rulers with his hands to demonstrate concepts; it was an engaging lecture style and the students enjoyed the class and learned. But other than that, the underlying course was taught the old-fashioned way since that’s all there was.
Video, photographs and color all seek to convey ideas to the minds eye. But this all blocks what is desired: for the student, after working with numbers and symbols and advancing to higher math, at some point begins to get images from what is represented by those textual characters in their minds eye on their own. That is the point when they start to understand that math is simply a representation of reality, i.e., the number of chickens in a coop or the efficiency of an engine at different rpm settings. Finally, they start to understand that the concepts represented are not limited to what is physically possible, that they can be abstract concepts that may even be impossible in physical reality. Photographs and video, used at an early stage in math education, I believe actually dull the mind in giving it ready made images, where it will be forced to conjure up it’s own without them, and the effort will be beneficial.
We always try to make education easier for the student. That is a very wrong approach, the word is a bad word to use for those purposes. A certain amount of practice is needed, sometimes repitition, sometimes making mistakes, often struggling. That struggling is what builds a person up so that they are not mentally lazy. The more a student has to imagine in their own mind, the more exercise their mind is getting. I had an excellent professor of European history in college who simply droned out a lecture every class like Ben Stein. You know that everyone was on time for his class and sat with rapt attention through the entire lecture; they were actually interested in what he had to say. I remember him describing the breakup of Yugoslavia before it happened; it was a great example to students of how studying history had practical relevance. Everyone knew that his professor was giving out words of wisdom that they would be wise to take hold of. No pictures, no video, no questions and answers. Just read and prepare for the class, then settle in for a fascinating talk, delivered in a droning bass voice.
Today one can see the marketing concepts of color and movement being taken to an extreme today (since corporate America’s idea of innovation is that incrementally more of the same of a good thing makes a better thing). Commercials and movies move faster and faster, the lights are brighter, the action more violent and perverse. All the while the ideas being conveyed are more base and banal, like a simple drum beating the viewer into a frenzy of primal instincts.
Charts and graphs are always used in presentations to the point where they become the presentation. Without a good knowlegde of math and logic, of course, they can be the greatest lie instead of an aid to understanding truth.
It’s when we stop looking for a simple solution and start looking for a true, correct solution that we stopped being “dumbed down” and get back on the path to truth.