Education versus guilds
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Education versus guilds

Summary
Salman Khan argues that the evolved global education system is inefficient and organized around constraining and corralling students into accepting dubious ratings that lead to mundane roles.  He highlights a radical and already proven alternative which offers effective self-paced deep learning processes supported by technology and freed up attention of teams of teachers.  Building on his personal experience of helping overcome the unjustified failing grade of a relative Khan:

Following our summary of his arguments RSS is Rob's Strategy Studio frames them from the perspective of complex adaptive system (CAS) theory. 
This page reviews Christensen's disruption of a complex adaptive system (CAS).  The mechanism is discussed with examples from biology and business. 
Disruption
is a powerful force for change but if its force is used to support the current teachers to adopt new processes can it overcome the
This page reviews the inhibiting effect of the value delivery system on the expression of new phenotypic effects within an agent. 
extended phenotypic alignment
and
This page reviews the strategy of setting up an arms race.  At its core this strategy depends on being able to alter, or take advantage of an alteration in, the genome or equivalent.  The situation is illustrated with examples from biology, high tech and politics. 
evolutionary amplifiers
sustaining the current educational network? 

The One World School House
In Salman Khan's book 'The One World School House' he describes.  Khan explains how he was working as a hedge fund is an investment fund that accepts investments from a limited number of accredited individual or institutional investors.  Hedge funds are able to use investment methods that are not allowed for other types of fund. 
analyst at Connective

Free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere

Khan introduces this vision to frame the book.  The world increasingly needs to actively process information, but we teach our children to learn passively while they flow through the education system in age based batches, presented with standardized curricula at a regular pace.   A system designed a hundred years ago and hopelessly out-of-date is allowing the needs gap to widen.  New technologies allow the system to be upgraded to match the current needs. 

Khan notes there is broad interest in improving education.  But there is confusion about what to do or even what is possible.  Some historic examples show excellence is possible but they failed to scale or be broadly replicated and sustained.  He is concerned about continuing to squander the potential of America's youth.  Given the U.S. is the United States of America.   offers a unique combination of creativity, entrepreneurship, optimism, & capital it enables sustained innovation is the economic realization of invention and combinatorial exaptation. 
.  The education system should be supporting this with fresh and well-schooled minds while helping everyone develop. 

Khan warns against deploying technology to incrementally change the current system.  He argues for transformation from his experience experimenting with alternative educational approaches based on well-proven principles and backed up by technology that has worked at scale and which allows broad accessibility.  In his spare time during 2004, while working at Connective, he posted math lessons on YouTube and then iteratively improved them using a
Walter Shewhart's iterative development process is found in many complex adaptive systems (CAS).  The mechanism is reviewed and its value in coping with random events is explained. 
Shewhart cycle
.  He became convinced this virtual teaching was his true mission.  By 2009 he was focused full time on the Khan Academy, developing education tools based on Microsoft Paint & quizzing software that ran on a $50-a-month web host. 

Khan sees the information revolution increasing the need for creativity and analytic skills.  His approach of connecting together the components and highlighting the progressions, transforms education information into mastery encouraging excitement & participation. 

Initially Khan worked alone & had one pupil Nadia.  During 2012 Khan Academy was educating 6 million pupils each month, growing 400% a year and hiring the best educators & software engineers to help.  The pupils enjoyed and benefited from the
  • Accessible, self-paced and active learning methods.  
  • Concepts described and linked to dependencies for free. 
  • Khan Academy tools, which were backed up by the promise that the source materials would remain available as the pupils' reference library. 
With Khan Academy tools the world becomes a vast inclusive schoolhouse, augmenting the formal passive education that had been failing the pupils. 

Teaching Nadia
Khan grew up in Louisiana in a single parent family with his mother.  His father, from Bangladesh, was a pediatrician is a doctor who specializes in the treatment of infants, children and adolescents.  They are represented by the American Academy of Pediatrics. 
who spent his residency is the apprenticeship of a medical or nursing graduate with a practitioner (attending), usually performed at a teaching hospital: Brigham & Women's, Cottage Health System, El Camino Hospital, Johns Hopkins, LSU Health Sciences Center, Rush University Medical Center, Stanford University Medical Center; skilled in the specialized techniques required for consistent success in diagnosis and treatment, or treatment execution, of medical conditions.  A first year resident is also called an intern.  Christensen, Grossman & Huang note the difficulty of presenting all the necessary case types to a resident during the limited period of the apprenticeship.  The difficulty of matching graduates with desired residency slots intrigued Al Roth who helped mitigate the problem with efficient market tools deployed by NRMP.  Docphin provides web access to categorized research information used during residency. 
at New Orleans's LSU health sciences center and practiced at Charity Hospital.  His mother, who was originally from India, had a formal arranged marriage.  His mother's family liked New Orleans and settled there - while feuding with each other as usual. 

During Khan's 2004 wedding celebrations, in New Jersey, where his new wife Umaima's family lived, Salman was approached by his then 12-year old cousin Nadia's parents, who were worried about her failing a math placement test.  As a result of the failure:
Salman's previous experience with Nadia implied her
This page discusses the impact of random events which once they occur encourage a particular direction forward for a complex adaptive system (CAS). 
result was a fluke
.   He offered to tutor her remotely, if the school would let her retake the exam.  Khan stresses everything since then about Khan Academy results from this offer, driven by the improvised strategies it demanded:

No frills videos
Khan academy's foundations were built in a guest bedroom and then a walk-in closet.  Khan selected a 'black' board as the medium.  YouTube's
Terrence Deacon explores how constraints on dynamic flows can induce emergent phenomena which can do real work.  He shows how these phenomena are sustained.  The mechanism enables the development of Darwinian competition. 
constraints
required the videos be a maximum of ten minutes long.  That was fortuitous as Khan
Good ideas are successful because they build upon prior developments that have been successfully implemented.  Johnson demonstrates that they are phenotypic expressions of memetic plans subject to the laws of complex adaptive systems (CAS). 
later discovered from educational researchers
:
In contrast the regular education system was requiring much longer attention spans!  The only place where this seemed to work was the Harvard Business School case analysis where the topic has been pre-studied and all attendees must be prepared to defend their understanding through an 80 minute session.  Here the ideas, shared by participants, stick! 

Focusing on the content
Khan's personal and limited financing of the Academy drove his initial decision to minimize equipment and production costs.   But his decision to focus on content was also aiming to simulate the one-to-one tutoring he did with Nadia.  And he was well aware that faces are powerful attractants of attention which would distract from the message he was trying to convey.  So he separated the content from any face-to-face time. 

Khan assumed the pupils would watch the video first and then talk about the concepts with a skilled educator.  An educator who could be particularly focused on helping those people who were struggling: Mentoring, Inspiring, Providing perspective.  And he assumed a computing system could assist the teacher in doing more in a workshop setting. 

Mastery learning
Khan sees mastery learning is a strategy of ensuring that a given concept is adequately comprehended before being expected to understand a more advanced one, explains Salman Khan in The One World School House.  It was developed in the 1920s in Winnetka school district, Illinois under superintendent Carlton Washburne.  But since the 1920s mastery learning was ignored until the 1960s when Benjamin Bloom & James Block promoted the technique and demonstrated its superior results.  However, school system inertia sustained the traditional learning processes.  Mastery learning was once again ignored until Khan Academy provided a technology supported implementation.   as a strategy that is central to the operation of Khan Academy.  He notes it instills a positive attitude about learning and the pupil's ability to learn. 

But ever since its
Good ideas are successful because they build upon prior developments that have been successfully implemented.  Johnson demonstrates that they are phenotypic expressions of memetic plans subject to the laws of complex adaptive systems (CAS). 
first used in 1922
it has been predicated on radical upending of the traditional educational model:
  1. All students could learn if provided with conditions appropriate to their needs.  No one should be held back or tracked/streamed
  2. Transition gateways designed around target levels of comprehension and achievement instead of time. 
During the 1920s there was keen interest in mastery learning.  But it was different, costly and required vast teacher retraining.  It was dropped and ignored until revived in the 1960s when it appeared in pilot programs across the US is the United States of America.   and was shown to provide a far more effective education for the pupils, only to collapse just as before. 

Khan sees another opportunity for teaching to adopt mastery learning now because:

How education happens
Khan argues we educate ourselves.  He refers to neuroscientist Eric Kandel's discoveries about how our brains make memories. We:
  • Decide to learn
  • Concentrate
Kandel explains that in any individual brain learning is reflected in changes in neurons, specialized eukaryotic cells include channels which control flows of sodium and potassium ions across the massively extended cell membrane supporting an electro-chemical wave which is then converted into an outgoing chemical signal transmission from synapses which target nearby neuron or muscle cell receptors.  Neurons are supported by glial cells.  Neurons include a:
  • Receptive element - dendrites
  • Transmitting element - axon and synaptic terminals
  • Highly variable DNA schema using transposons. 
including deployment of new synaptic, a neuron structure which provides a junction with other neurons.  It generates signal molecules, either excitatory or inhibitory, which are kept in vesicles until the synapse is stimulated when the signal molecules are released across the synaptic cleft from the neuron.  The provisioning of synapses is under genetic control and is part of long term memory formation as identified by Eric Kandel.  Modulation signals (from slow receptors) initiate the synaptic strengthening which occurs in memory. 
terminals.  Khan notes that when a concept is studied from many different angles, each one will create additional connections.  A web of associations will enhance understanding, reflecting physical changes including protein synthesis and synaptic enhancement.  Khan stresses the system is dynamic and reversible.  But through repetition, and initial concentration, lasting memories can be created.  Khan concludes effective education must be active and focused.  Again he is frustrated with the passive orientation of the traditional education process

Kandel's neuronal memory in the brain includes functionally different types: Declarative (episodic and semantic), Implicit, Procedural, Spatial, Temporal, Verbal; Hebb noted that glutamate receptive neurons learn by (NMDA channel based) synaptic strengthening.  This strengthening is sustained by subsequent LTP.  The non-realtime learning and planning processes operate through consciousness using the working memory structures, and then via sleep, the salient ones are consolidated while the rest are destroyed and garbage collected.   architecture includes both:
Khan reiterates Kandel's point about the importance of "attending to the information and associating it meaningfully & systematically with knowledge already well established in memory in the brain includes functionally different types: Declarative (episodic and semantic), Implicit, Procedural, Spatial, Temporal, Verbal; Hebb noted that glutamate receptive neurons learn by (NMDA channel based) synaptic strengthening.  This strengthening is sustained by subsequent LTP.  The non-realtime learning and planning processes operate through consciousness using the working memory structures, and then via sleep, the salient ones are consolidated while the rest are destroyed and garbage collected.  ."  It is clearly useful to teach the flow of a subject -- the chain of associations.  This requires the opposite of the traditional educational model's solos which present a false paradigm of how the world works and limit understanding. 

Filling in the gaps
Khan asserts that a topic's dependencies must be understood.  Since gaps will develop Khan argues they must be found and filled in.  He concludes there are huge benefits if the dependencies are revisited during covering the topic. 

Khan sees the pupil as responsible for finding and filling in the gaps.  He argues they start out as active explorers, so this comes naturally.  But they can be helped by:
  • Being able to do the studying at any time & place
  • Self-pacing via tools which can: Monitor activity, Propose & support reviews,  Highlight links between subjects; encouraging a sense of wonder and excitement. 
Khan notes the traditional education process can't support filling in gaps. 

Questioning customs
Khan sees strong persistence & rigidity of our customs and institutions even once they start failing.  Our education infrastructure is:
But he notes the education
This page discusses the effect of the network on the agents participating in a complex adaptive system (CAS).  Small world and scale free networks are considered. 
network
is manmade:
Using John Holland's theory of adaptation in complex systems Baldwin and Clark propose an evolutionary theory of design.  They show how this can limit the interdependencies that generate complexity within systems.  They do this through a focus on modularity. 
Designed
,
This page reviews the implications of selection, variation and heredity in a complex adaptive system (CAS).  The mechanism and its emergence are discussed. 
Evolved
; along one of many possible pathways, Accepted aspects are
This page discusses the impact of random events which once they occur encourage a particular direction forward for a complex adaptive system (CAS). 
frozen accidents
:
  • Length of each class period
  • Number of elementary years
  • Number of high school years
Khan suggests the dominant model of education is not inevitable.  But being integrated broadly into the US nation it is highly resistant to change, due to
This page reviews the inhibiting effect of the value delivery system on the expression of new phenotypic effects within an agent. 
extended phenotypic alignment
.  Khan proposes to induce change by:
The basics of the standard educational
The agents in complex adaptive systems (CAS) must model their environment to respond effectively to it.  Samuel modeling is described as an approach. 
model
are:
  • Go to school at 7 or 8 am
  • Sit through a sequence of class periods of regular length where
    • Teachers talk
    • Pupils listen
  • Add time for lunch & physical exercise
  • Go home and do homework. 

The Prussian model
The ubiquitous US is the United States of America.   education network 
This page reviews the strategy of setting up an arms race.  At its core this strategy depends on being able to alter, or take advantage of an alteration in, the genome or equivalent.  The situation is illustrated with examples from biology, high tech and politics. 
supports
building a compliant middle class by
Flows of different kinds are essential to the operation of complex adaptive systems (CAS). 
Example flows are outlined.  Constraints on flows support the emergence of the systems.  Examples of constraints are discussed. 
flowing
children through:
The network was initially deployed in the US by Horace Mann was Massachusetts's Secretary of Education who drove the deployment of the Prussian education model in the US in the early 19th century.  , and was then refined & standardized by the Committee of Ten was setup by the National Education Association in 1892 with a mission of determining what primary and secondary education should be like, following the deployment of the Prussian model by various states.  The committee was led by Harvard president Charles Eliot.  The ten members were all educators and most were university presidents.  They were progressive & egalitarian for their time.  They concluded that every child between age six and 18 in the US should have:
  • Eight years of primary education
  • Four years of high school
  • English, mathematics & reading every year
  • Chemistry and physics instruction covered towards the end of high school


The original template they copied was developed in 18th century Prussia by: Fichte was a Prussian philosopher & political theorist who helped design the Prussian education system.  Salman Khan explains Fichte's aim was to create a ubiquitous middle class of loyal tractable citizens to staff the rapidly industrializing Prussia.  Fichte asserted "If you want to influence a person, you must do more than merely talk to him; you must fashion him, in such a way that he simply cannot will otherwise than what you wish him to will." 
; as a political tool to produce
Plans are interpreted and implemented by agents.  This page discusses the properties of agents in a complex adaptive system (CAS). 
It then presents examples of agents in different CAS.  The examples include a computer program where modeling and actions are performed by software agents.  These software agents are aggregates. 
The participation of agents in flows is introduced and some implications of this are outlined. 
loyal, tractable citizens valuing submission to authority
: Parents, Teachers, Church, King.  It helped make Germany an industrial power.  But the Prussian model worked best when:

Khan concludes the effect is to stifle deeper inquiry and independent thought that is so essential in today's world. 

Having looked skeptically at the history of US education he sees huge opportunities to improve the present system so that it can support our present day needs. 

Swiss cheese learning
Since the units of traditional education are time based it is typical for pupils to have an incomplete understanding of the concepts at the transition point to the next topic.  The model uses a test to demonstrate proficiency, but Khan notes that anything less than 100% implies problems going forward with topics that depend on these concepts.  Khan notes that this is especially true of calculus and organic chemistry which have lots of dependencies. 

Khan raises another issue with this Prussian strategy - each fragment is isolated from its real-world connections.  There is no opportunity to comprehend the significance of the subject.  Naturally it becomes test fodder and with few associations is then forgotten.  A legacy of holes builds up. 

What is needed is a
Walter Shewhart's iterative development process is found in many complex adaptive systems (CAS).  The mechanism is reviewed and its value in coping with random events is explained. 
Shewhart cycle
custom built for each pupil.  Any hole identified must be filled in.  But the architecture of the standard educational model constrains the allocation of time and individual focus. 

Tests & Testing
Khan explains that a test can't measure a pupil's potential to learn a subject.  Instead it takes a snapshot of the current situation which:
  • Fails to indicate how deeply the pupil's knowledge goes. 
  • Does not explain why an answer is right or wrong
  • Synergizes with the Prussian architecture to reward the Swiss cheese strategy of learning for the test and then forgetting.  
Schools emphasize that test results demonstrate the pupil's ability and potential.  The impression is given of the network's objectivity and its creation of a meritocracy.  But Khan shows the logic is circular with the desired result distribution becoming the goal that drives the subject fragmentation and test strategies.  He concludes test results really act as
This page discusses the tagging of signals in a complex adaptive system (CAS).  Tagged signals can be used to control filtering of an event stream.  Examples of CAS filters are reviewed. 
tags that categorize and limit
the pupil's choices of future paths.  The Prussian state needed lots of low skilled workers and filtering on test results ensured a plentiful labor pool. 

Tracking creativity
Khan asks why arts are judged as creative while sciences are not.  Khan sees: creativity, passion, originality; needed in both.  These are aspects that are not highlighted by the testing process

Khan sees a mismatch between our societies need for mind workers and the output of the current education network.  The process of filtering pupils into streams and tracks excludes some early in the game.  Any late bloomers with different approaches that may enhance creativity are tagged as different and slow and discarded. 

Khan stresses:
  1. Creativity tends to be selected against in our schools
  2. Many educators don't see mathematics, science & engineering as at all creative.  They ignore all the evidence of innovations is the economic realization of invention and combinatorial exaptation. 
    in science & technology.  Instead they seek the right answer through memorizing formulas. 
So he warns assessments can easily exclude the creative, passionate & original.  That is a scenario that could have easily happened with Nadia

Homework
Khan asks how much homework is good.  The current system provides little clarification:
  • Some parents want lots, others a little
  • Sleep deprivation does increase with homework load
  • Teachers aren't trained in the theory and practice of homework
  • Quantity is easy for teachers to measure
  • In times when the US is externally threatened: Sputnik, Japan's economic success; more homework is assigned to US school children.  
  • Some other countries require a lot of homework while others set very little.  The amount does not correlate with the relative educational achievement of the pupils.  
  • The best indicator of better achievement & fewer behavioral problems was frequency & duration of family meals. 
Khan sees homework as practiced in the current educational network as providing the children of the well-off, well-educated and well-resourced with an edge that undermines poor children and their families. 

But now that he has highlighted the questionable value of homework & 40 minute lectures he asks a very revealing question "Why was homework designed to be done at home?"  He concludes the answer is "Because of deficiencies in the classroom processes not enough learning takes place there."  It is a very inefficient system.   

Flipping the classroom
Having pupils work with Khan Academy tools at home & then subsequently while at school discussing them, getting help & feedback allows:

Khan notes that this opportunity has been understood for some time.  But the awareness of Khan Academy has pushed flipping into the mainstream of thinking.  And Khan notes it is just an optimization of the Prussian framework

Economics of schooling
US is the United States of America.   education is expensive.  And some of that money is wasted.  Khan explains the funding allocation: $100,000 for a teacher, $30,000 for a classroom, $150,000 for: Administration, Security, Football fields etc. 

Khan reviews the basic assumptions behind the spending:
  • Teacher student ratios should really be judged on valuable time spent mentoring.  Lecturing does not benefit much from reducing class sizes. 
  • Private education lavishes funding on low ratios and adds expensive tutors.  Khan asserts that this investment is unnecessary, since all education can be made more effective and cheaper. 
  • Technologies are being deployed in shallow, ineffective and costly ways which will eventually suggest technology is an expensive gimmick.  The metrics, methods, goals and assessments must be adjusted to leverage the infrastructure.  With these setup correctly, Khan asserts, teacher mentoring time can go to 90 - 100%. 

Theory versus practice
Khan notes that experimenting on complex, M. Mitchell Waldrop describes a vision of complexity via:
  • Rich interactions that allow a system to undergo spontaneous self-organization
  • Systems that are adaptive
  • More predictability than chaotic systems by bringing order and chaos into
  • Balance at the edge of chaos 
subjects like education & medicine requires careful design, sufficient data collection, careful analysis and peer reviewed publication, a costly and risky exercise but one that draws a lot of investment. 

He warns that the education researchers tend to overgeneralize. 

Khan suggests that he avoids over generalizing by using
Walter Shewhart's iterative development process is found in many complex adaptive systems (CAS).  The mechanism is reviewed and its value in coping with random events is explained. 
highly specific strategies and then testing and refining them
broadly on the many people using the Khan Academy tools, rather than adopting a general theory. 

Khan explains his personal philosophy - do what makes sense and do not try to confirm a dogmatic bias with pseudoscience.  He justifies it:
  • As grounded in "using data to iteratively refine an educational experience without attempting to make sweeping statements about how the unimaginably complex human mind always works."
  • Use:
    • Video-based lectures for certain contexts
    • Live dialogs, when possible, for others
    • Projects when appropriate
    • Traditional problem sets when appropriate
  • Focus both on what
    • The students need to prove to the world through assessments
    • Students actually need to know in the real world. 
  • Focus on the pure and the thought-provoking as well as the practical. 
  • Craft particular and individual solutions based on the availability of data from millions of students updated daily
  • It is happening in the real world now. 

The Khan Academy software
Khan recalls that in 2004 he was doing a little private tutoring by telephone while employed at Connective.  He was shocked that most of his tutees had a very poor grasp of the core material he was discussing.  He determined the issue was that they were missing the connections between the various ideas.  The tutees realized they did not know how to interpret Khan's questions and were lacking in confidence & tentative, appearing to guess at answers. 

Khan realized he didn't have the time to search for each tutees gaps with them live and cover any of the more advanced topics.  His solution was to write some software to:
As Khan got more and more tutees he had to shift the allocation of work activities to the software.  Finally he was able to focus on mentoring and had captured the time to do it.  And as the tutees mastered each topic their confidence and self-esteeme rose. 

The leap to a real classroom
By 2007, there were several thousand pupils using the Khan Academy videos.  Hundreds were also using the problem-generating software.  Khan was now relatively isolated from the majority of the users of his service.  And he had little interaction with educators.  Until a friend introduced him to a Castilleja School history teacher, Ryanne Saddler who was the summer site director of Peninsula Bridge is a Bay Area summer education program which as Sal Khan explains 'aims to provide educational opportunities to motivated middle-school kids from underresourced schools and neighborhoods.' 
hosted at the school.  Through her he got to talk with the Peninsula Bridge board that included mathematics teachers.  They agreed the Academy services could be of value in preparing the children for algebra. 

Three middle school Peninsula Bridge math classes were selected that would use Khan's tools during computer lessons.  A subset of the teachers opted to start their classes with the most basic Khan Math concepts -- well below middle school level -- while the rest started at middle school level.  Khan was excited to see a classic, if small, controlled experiment unfolding which showed that many of the kids had Swiss cheese holes beginning early on in their math foundations.  But once these had been reached and worked through the children became confident and effective.  Starting at the beginning proved far more effective over time. 

All the children got stuck at some point or another due to a dependent hole.  The experienced teachers asked Khan for a tool that would identify when & to whom this was happening.  As with mastery, he proposed an arbitrary metric for "stuckness" - 50 questions attempted without getting 10 in a row correct - and used a Shewhart cycle is the Plan Do Check Act (PDCA) cycle developed at Bell Labs by Walter Shewhart.  Each activity that an organization identifies it will 'do' is formally described in a 'plan' including a model of the expected outcomes of the act if it successfully achieves its goals.  If a subsequent 'check' of the results of the action relative to the predicted model is unsatisfactory the initial plan is modified to correct for identified problems and the cycle is re-executed.  The cycle allows learning to become represented in the improved plan.  Following the process institutionalizes the learning. 
to refine the metric over time.  He provided the teachers with a spreadsheet like report of the data gathered, indicating how each student was performing on each concept.  That improved one-to-one interactions by orienting the teachers, and students proficient at a concept, to the pupils most at need on that concept so as to coach them past the problem. 

The data about each student showed Khan that initially backward students who filled in all the holes became fast proficient students.  It was clearly counterproductive to remedially stream these students and consign them to failure. 

Fun & games
Khan's vision aims to make education more efficient and enable mastery learning is a strategy of ensuring that a given concept is adequately comprehended before being expected to understand a more advanced one, explains Salman Khan in The One World School House.  It was developed in the 1920s in Winnetka school district, Illinois under superintendent Carlton Washburne.  But since the 1920s mastery learning was ignored until the 1960s when Benjamin Bloom & James Block promoted the technique and demonstrated its superior results.  However, school system inertia sustained the traditional learning processes.  Mastery learning was once again ignored until Khan Academy provided a technology supported implementation.  , to create time for other powerful learning activities:

Taking the plunge
Both Khan and his wife, Umaima, who in 2009 was then training to be a rheumatologist is an internist or pediatrician who specializes in rheumatology.  , grew up in single parent households.  This, and their new-born son, added to the dilemma as Khan discussed leaving Connective to focus full time on the Khan Academy as a not-for-profit.  He was kicked over the edge that August by:
  1. Being chosen as a finalist for a major award of the Technology Museum of San Jose.  
  2. A letter from an underprivileged black boy who used Khan Academy's tools to overcome prejudice & lack of resources to reach mastery in 200 level university honors mathematics. 
With hindsight he notes his decision to switch full time to Khan Academy was very naive and risky, is an assessment of the likelihood of an independent problem occurring.  It can be assigned an accurate probability since it is independent of other variables in the system.  As such it is different from uncertainty. 
.  He had no experience operating or fund-raising for a not-for-profit.  And sponsoring foundations were waiting for each other to invest.  Even an invitation from Google to submit a two page proposal for a $2 million grant appeared to stall.  And then Ann Doerr wrote to Khan "I am a big fan" accompanied by a check for $10,000.  He suggested they meet for coffee.  Once she discovered that he was funding the Academy from his savings she sent another $100,000!  And then she let him know that she was watching Bill Gates at the Aspen Ideas Festival talking about how he and his children had benefited from Khan Academy. 

Gates's chief of staff subsequently requested that Khan meet with Bill.  After they talked Gates concluded "This is great."  And through a Fortune article titled "Bill Gates' Favorite Teacher" finally convinced Khan's mother to forgive him for not going to medical school.  The Gates foundation followed up with $5.5 million in funding and Google finally announced a $2 million award to fit within their Project 10^100. 

The Los Altos experiment
Things started to take off:
  • To cope with the increasing demands Khan asked his old Louisiana and MIT is Massachusetts Institute of Technology.   friend Shantanu Sinha to help lead Khan Academy. 
  • Angel investor & Los Altos school board member Mark Goines connected them with Los Altos schools' superintendent Jeff Baier and assistant superintendent Alyssa Gallagher.  It was agreed to start a pilot using Khan Academy services and methods integrated into four classrooms.  Khan viewed it as a chance to learn how the technology could be used and improved to support the education network. 
The pilot was fully operating by November 2010 with two fifth-grade classes and two seventh-grade classes - all full of enthusiasm and curiosity and enjoying being able to take control of their learning:
  • The fifth-graders weren't tracked yet and had the support of their mostly English-speaking, college-educated, affluent parents. 
  • The seventh-graders were from the developmental tracks.  Some with learning disabilities, others struggling with English, few with college-educated parents. 
Khan software designers Ben Kamens and Jason Rosoff directly observed the classes & iteratively adjusted the software to help the teaching.  The curriculum was developing and the classes were participating.  Khan notes the power of open, respectful, two-way conversation between the tool makers and users. 

Still Khan was nervous.  They would all be judged on the results of the standardized tests.  Thankfully due to a mixture of great teachers and the Khan Academy's services and methods:
  • The fifth-graders scored 96% at proficient or advanced grade level.  The school board concluded they would use Khan Academy as part of the math curriculum for all fifth- and sixth- grade math classes the following year. 
  • The seventh-graders improved 106% relative to the prior year: Twice as many students were now at grade level, A handful jumped two categories, A few even entered the advanced category; underserved, underperforming, 'slow' kids were operating the same as their more affluent peers. 
For summer 2011 Khan Academy was setting up to manage a Los Altos district-wide pilot of 1200 children.  And they were able to start pilots with public, charter, and private schools in California.  Khan notes the results from these activities is just becoming available in 2012 but looks exciting with average scores 10 - 40% higher.  He concludes the use of Khan Academy is fundamentally changing student character--with responsibility replacing apathy and effort replacing laziness.  He sees this as the primary reason for the stunning results. 

Education for all ages
Khan notes the tools can be used at any age.  Like many others he wanted to learn what was going on in the
Charles Ferguson argues that the US power structure has become highly corrupt. 

Ferguson identifies key events which contributed to the transformation:
  • Junk bonds, 
  • Derivative deregulation, 
  • CMOs, ABS and analyst fraud,
  • Financial network deregulation,
  • Financial network consolidation, 
  • Short term incentives
Subsequently the George W. Bush administration used the situation to build a global bubble, which Wall Street leveraged.  The bursting of the bubble: managed by the Bush Administration and Bernanke Federal Reserve; was advantageous to some. 

Ferguson concludes that the restructured and deregulated financial services industry is damaging to the American economy.  And it is supported by powerful, incentive aligned academics.   He sees the result being a rigged system. 

Ferguson offers his proposals for change and offers hope that a charismatic young FDR will appear. 

Following our summary of his arguments, RSS comments on them framed by complex adaptive system (CAS) theory.  Once the constraints are removed from CAS amplifiers, it becomes advantageous to leverage the increased flows.  And it is often relatively damaging not to participate.  Corruption and parasitism can become entrenched. 

2008 credit crisis
.  Typically for him, he worked to break the crisis into manageable and interconnected chunks, checking he had a conceptual grasp of any aspect before moving on to the next bit.  He built videos for himself to explain:
Khan notes that as soon as he put these videos on-line he got e-mails reporting 'Thanks, now I understand what I do for a living.'  And he was invited to do a 15 minute electronic blackboard lesson on-air for CNN at the peak of the crisis.  He concluded education could be life-long and there was a deep need to help educate people of all ages about their increasingly complex world.  Adults need the education tools to be able to adapt.  Khan sees neural plasticity refers to lasting changes to the brain that occur throughout the life span of the organism.  Many aspects of the brain can be altered into adulthood.  Almost anything in the nervous system can change in response to sustained stimulus.  And in a different environment the changes will often reverse.  The changes include:
  • The strength of dendritic input alters due to genetic, neural and hormonal signals
    • Hebb notes that memories require strengthening of preexisting synapses.  Glutamate responsive neurons' post synaptic dendritic spines have two types of receptor: non-NMDA and NMDA.  NMDA channels are responsible for this strengthening mechanism.  LTP then occurs to prolong the increase in excitability of the synapse. 
    • The LTP operation results in calcium diffusion which triggers new spine formation in adjacent parts of the dendrite.  Eventually that can stimulate dentrite growth enabling more neurons to connect. 
    • Short term stress promotes hippocampal LTP.  
    • Sustained stress promotes:
      • Hippocampal & frontal cortex  LTD & suppresses LTP.  Subsequent reductions in NCAM then reduce dendrite and synapse density. 
      • Amygdala LTP and suppresses LTD boosting fear conditioning.  It increases BDNF levels and expands dendrites in the BLA. 
    • Depression and anxiety reduce hippocampal dendrite and spine number by reducing BDNF. 
  • The axon's conditions for
    • Initiating an action potential. 
      • Progesterone boosts GABA-ergic neurons response to GABA decreasing the excitability of other neurons over a period of hours. 
    • Duration of a neuron's refractory period.  Testosterone shortens the refractory period of amygdala and amygdala target neurons over a period of hours. 
  • Synaptic connections being constantly removed and recreated
  • Synapses being created or destroyed.  Stimulation generates additional dendritic spines which become associated with a nearby axon terminal and within weeks a synapse forms.  The synapse then contributes calcium diffusion through LTP triggering more spine formation.  When dendritic spines recede synapses disappear. 
  • Cortical maps change to reflect alterations in the inputs and outputs from the body. 
  • Birth of brain cells in many areas of adult brains: the hippocampus (where 3% are replaced each month) and olfactory bulb and lesser amounts in the cortex. 
  • Restructuring after brain damage including axonal plasticity.  Distant rerouting of axons is observed but no mechanism has been identified yet. 
  • Vision is plastic in predators, where the eyes are moved during final development.  Dehaene argues for neuronal recycling supporting reading.  
as signalling, is an emergent capability which is used by cooperating agents to support coordination & rival agents to support control and dominance.  In eukaryotic cells signalling is used extensively.  A signal interacts with the exposed region of a receptor molecule inducing it to change shape to an activated form.  Chains of enzymes interact with the activated receptor relaying, amplifying and responding to the signal to change the state of the cell.  Many of the signalling pathways pass through the nuclear membrane and interact with the DNA to change its state.  Enzymes sensitive to the changes induced in the DNA then start to operate generating actions including sending further signals.  Cell signalling is reviewed by Helmreich.  Signalling is a fundamental aspect of CAS theory and is discussed from the abstract CAS perspective in signals and sensors.  In AWF the eukaryotic signalling architecture has been abstracted in a codelet based implementation.  To be credible signals must be hard to fake.  To be effective they must be easily detected by the target recipient.  To be efficient they are low cost to produce and destroy. 
some potential for adult learning.  He is particularly enthusiastic about leveraging associative learning with adults. 

Embracing uncertainty
Technological change is continuously enabling new surprising niches to emerge that make it impossible for most children to know what job category they may eventually work in.  He concludes that education must provide the basics of: mathematics, science,
Reading and writing present a conundrum.  The reader's brain contains neural networks tuned to reading.  With imaging a written word can be followed as it progresses from the retina through a functional chain that asks: Are these letters? What do they look like? Are they a word? What does it sound like? How is it pronounced? What does it mean?  Dehaene explains the importance of education in tuning the brain's networks for reading as well as good strategies for teaching reading and countering dyslexia.  But he notes the reading networks developed far too recently to have directly evolved.  And Dehaene asks why humans are unique in developing reading and culture. 

He explains the cultural engineering that shaped writing to human vision and the exaptations and neuronal structures that enable and constrain reading and culture. 

Dehaene's arguments show how cellular, whole animal and cultural complex adaptive system (CAS) are related.  We review his explanations in CAS terms and use his insights to link cultural CAS that emerged based on reading and writing with other levels of CAS from which they emerge. 

reading
,
An epistatic meme suppressed for a thousand years reemerges during the enlightenment. 
It was a poem encapsulating the ideas of Epicurus rediscovered by a humanist book hunter. 
Greenblatt describes the process of suppression and reemergence.  He argues that the rediscovery was the foundation of the modern world. 
Complex adaptive system (CAS) models of the memetic mechanisms are discussed. 

writing
, history, politics; and then
Good ideas are successful because they build upon prior developments that have been successfully implemented.  Johnson demonstrates that they are phenotypic expressions of memetic plans subject to the laws of complex adaptive systems (CAS). 
teach people how to adapt
and to enjoy actively learning with confidence, rather than educators worrying about specifically what is taught. 

He argues for
To benefit from shifts in the environment agents must be flexible.  Being sensitive to environmental signals agents who adjust strategic priorities can constrain their competitors. 
flexibility
rather than the brittle strategies of traditional education.  But he sees the educational establishment as blind or resistant to the opportunity.  Even as the prior one room school house model and methods fit perfectly with Khan Academy style tools. 

My background as a student
Khan first met, and later became a friend of, Shantanu Sinha, when he was beaten by him in a math competition.   Shantanu revealed to Sal that it was possible to 'test out' of algebra II and that he was officially studying pre-calculus early.  Khan saw this as a fantastic strategy but was turned down by his teachers.  The teachers argued "If we let you do it, we'd have to let everybody do it."  This festered within Khan to eventually become: If kids can advance at their own pace, and if they'd be happier and more productive that way, why not let everybody do it?

Then at MIT is Massachusetts Institute of Technology.   Khan learned how incredibly inefficient, irrelevant and inhuman broadcast lectures were.  Shantanu and he separately concluded there was no point in attending.  It was more productive to actively research the material from the text books.  They soon found they could do more courses in the time available and were better prepared for the exams.  Khan reflects that it should be no surprise since the Prussians had actively designed their system to be slow and limiting

The spirit of the one room school house
Khan sees great virtue in the pre-industrial one room school because:
  • Kids of different ages should mix.  In this setup that can happen enabling
  • More advanced children can support the teachers in mentoring anyone who is behind.  They will gain respect from this activity. 
  • Younger children sit with role models in a setting that matches the family and work environments
Khan notes this model is already successfully in operation at Los Angeles Marlborough School.  They have supported the structure with Khan Academy services.  The results have been magical. 

Teaching as a team sport
Khan notes an advantage of mixing up the ages of groups of school children offers the opportunity to keep the teacher/student ratios the same by having teams of teachers work with a merged class.  He sees this as adding value:
  • Support for each other - leveraging the different strengths and weaknesses each teacher brings to the team
  • Robust to personal holidays or illness of a teacher
  • Additional group techniques can be deployed 
  • Offers more opportunities for the children to find a teacher they relate to. 
  • Older teachers can impart their experience to the team.  Younger ones can supply energy and fresh ideas. 
  • With the use of active self-paced learning it allows the teachers to become coaches covering the children's backs when they struggle. 

Ordered chaos is a good thing
Khan's schoolroom is dynamic with varied activities going on and no bells or mental walls:
  • 20 pupils working over an hour exploring Khan academy concepts with immediate coaching as they get stuck
  • 20 are using board games to explore economics & simulating markets
  • 20 are working in teams building applications to do novel creative work
  • 20 are in a quiet zone working on art or creative writing projects while elsewhere
  • Some practice making music; and each pupil can switch over to another area when they gain mastery of their current focus topic
Khan's goal is to ensure there is space for different learning styles allowing the curious, mysterious and original to grow and contribute. 

Redefining summer
The whole family needed to be working on the farm during summer when the US was an agrarian society.  Khan notes with frustration that this need changed over a century ago but we still arrange school and University timetables around the ancient requirement.  His frustration is due to the loss of time, idle
This page reviews the catalytic impact of infrastructure on the expression of phenotypic effects by an agent.  The infrastructure reduces the cost the agent must pay to perform the selected action.  The catalysis is enhanced by positive returns. 
infrastructure
resources and forgetting that goes on during this long holiday.  Instead Khan thinks schools could implement holidays the same way that businesses do.  This would be especially easy with teams of teachers and self-directed learning.  But he accepts such a move would be unpopular and resisted. 

The future of transcripts
Khan expects competition for the places at top universities, major companies and professional guilds to become fiercer as they become able to attract from a global pool of candidates.  Many of the candidates will have perfect scores as measured by current day transcripts, so these are of little help for effective accurate selection.  Khan has already noted the risks associated with the yearly standardized tests.  Not surprisingly the transcript does not characterize creativity given the failure of education to enable it.  And assessing extra-curricular activities weights the race in favor of the wealthy and well resourced. 

Khan proposes an alternative to the current transcript, including:

Serving the underserved
Khan reasons that, in our highly interconnected civilization, lack of education for the world's poor results in additional poverty and unrest that touches everyone.  He asserts that trained minds and bright futures can counteract that situation.  Our evolved tendency to focus on our own family ignores this global imperative placing our own children at risk. 

Educating the poorest is fraught with challenges.  In many places:
  • Malnourishment makes learning difficult
  • School infrastructure and supplies are limited and under-funded
  • There are too few teachers, their skill sets are limited, corruption is rampant and oversight non-existent.  
But Khan sees software based self-paced learning as offering new possibilities because:
  • DVD players and TV sets are ubiquitous and so offer a baseline for access to the videos.  
  • Time-shared low-end iPads and cellular network connectivity can be financed for around two cents a child a day.  Bandwidth intense video would be pre-loaded Khan argues. 
  • By time-sharing the iPads and networks between paying middle class and non-paying poor the startup funding can be bootstrapped.  Indeed Khan argues middle class investment in tutors could be leveraged since the Khan Academy approach would prove more effective and cheaper, allowing some of this investment to be used for bootstrapping. 

The future of credentials
Khan breaks university into three separate value streams: Learning, Social network and skills, Taking exams to obtain credentials; which typically get intermingled in discussions.  He sees an opportunity to reduce the cost, and improve the specificity of gaining credentials. 

Employers currently select for credentialed attendance at high tier colleges.  That limits opportunities for poor smart students.  Khan argues that credentials built from Khan Academy tracking data captured during learning can provide the basis for a superior and far cheaper credential.  People could use low cost means of learning: Text books, Khan Academy videos and credentials to avoid building up debt.  It would remove the barrier to entry from higher education enabling more job retraining. 

What college could become
Khan argues our current universities have a design problem - they are rightly setup to encourage academic research by being isolated from the demands of the economy, but they are asked as a secondary task to provide an effective tertiary education for our children.  Children who mostly want help preparing to effectively perform a job or vocation. 

So he looks for an alternative which better meets both the academics and undergraduates goals.  Khan knows that computing and software companies see internships as the best way to identify people with the creativity, intellect and passion that are necessary to design and build the company's products and services.  So Canada's University of Waterloo has made internships a core part of its computer science curriculum.  Khan sees this as the major focus of redesigned curricula with extensive internships supported by Khan Academy style active online learning. 

Khan hopes that ungraded seminars in the arts and sciences will allow academics to help undergraduates to enjoy and explore the great works. 

Khan argues that the best educators for his redesigned college would be retired entrepreneurs, inventors, and business executives etc. who understand the roles that the undergraduates are interning for. 

Instead of GPAs the reports from internships and portfolio of work activities would provide the information for a resume that bootstraps the graduate into the regular company hiring process. 

Khan notes that his redesign is less radical than some others such as Peter Thiel's Fellowships.  Regular universities could move towards his proposal by allocating time to internships and active learning that is currently dedicated to lectures. 

Making time for creativity
Khan argues that no one knows how to teach creativity.  But he notes the current education system is architected to discourage it by undermining motivation, removing time and discouraging risk, is an assessment of the likelihood of an independent problem occurring.  It can be assigned an accurate probability since it is independent of other variables in the system.  As such it is different from uncertainty. 
taking.  Khan Academy is setup to grab back the time sequestered by traditional education so that it can be used by the learner to go beyond the concepts and connections Sal Khan provides for self-paced & self-directed motivating learning and explore, create and when necessary celebrate failure. 



Khan argues that the key building blocks are in place for
Brynjolfsson and McAfee explore the effects of Moore's law on the economy.  They argue it has generated exponential growth.  This has been due to innovation.  It has created a huge bounty of additional wealth.  But the wealth is spread unevenly across society.  They look at the short and long term implications of the innovation bounty and spread and the possible future of technology. 

Following our summary of their arguments RSS comments from the perspective of CAS theory. 

digital technologies to support a revolution
in education. 
This page introduces the complex adaptive system (CAS) theory frame.  The theory is positioned relative to the natural sciences.  It catalogs the laws and strategies which underpin the operation of systems that are based on the interaction of emergent agents. 
John Holland's framework for representing complexity is outlined.  Links to other key aspects of CAS theory discussed at the site are presented. 
CAS theory
suggests:


Sal Khan's book presents his powerful vision of how technology and common sense can transform the educational potential of all the World's children.  His analysis explains and highlights the appalling waste of the current educational network.  Khan Academy's current success and powerful sponsors add weight to his plans to deliver a free world class education for anyone, anywhere. 




























































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This page looks at schematic structures and their uses.  It discusses a number of examples:
  • Schematic ideas are recombined in creativity. 
  • Similarly designers take ideas and rules about materials and components and combine them. 
  • Schematic Recipes help to standardize operations. 
  • Modular components are combined into strategies for use in business plans and business models. 

As a working example it presents part of the contents and schematic details from the Adaptive Web Framework (AWF)'s operational plan. 

Finally it includes a section presenting our formal representation of schematic goals. 
Each goal has a series of associated complex adaptive system (CAS) strategy strings. 
These goals plus strings are detailed for various chess and business examples. 
Strategy
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This page uses an example to illustrate how:
  • A business can gain focus from targeting key customers,
  • Business planning activities performed by the whole organization can build awareness, empowerment and coherence. 
  • A program approach can ensure strategic alignment. 
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