Thank you for taking the time to read and review Sal Khan's book. You've gone into great depth. On the surface, this looks like a book I'd like to read, but your review has made me decide to skip it.

Thanks for saving me a couple weeks of reading time!

Could you clarify this sentence?

"Sal Khan has no apparent genuine interest in teaching and teachers."

Khan Academy has 8,000-plus free videos on YouTube. That is a huge investment of resources to help out students around the world.

In your view, what constitutes a "genuine interest in teaching and teachers"?

Was Khan once someone who had a "genuine interest in teaching and teachers", but has since lost it?

The way you review Khan's book certainly makes it sound like he's transitioned to a salesman interested in selling his AI chat bot more than anything else.

The section of your review about writing is interesting. Writing is thinking. Thinking is hard.

As you pointed out, writing is a lot more than just being clear and concise. Khan has "no consideration of depth, or elegance, or entertainment and engagement. There is no consideration of audience or the rhetorical situation."

I was a teacher for 15 years, and I think writing is the most difficult skill to teach.

To write well, you must have some degree of subject mastery, interesting insights, use interesting words, organize your ideas coherently, avoid too much repetition, etc. There's a lot going on.

It's likely that large language models (LLMs) can help with some aspects of the writing process, but I'm dubious that an LLM can teach writing in its totality.

Even if LLMs can teach us all how to write, won't we all end up sounding the same? Wouldn't it be boring if we all write the same and, by extension, essentially think the same?

As far as I can tell, AI is this amorphous buzzword that gets thrown around without anyone really understanding what AI is. I certainly don't know what AI is.

As you noted at the beginning of your review, "[i]t is difficult to even grapple with Khan’s book as an argument or vision because there is no real argument and no vision beyond an almost childlike faith in the awesomeness of technocratic approaches to teaching."

It's somewhat reassuring to know that even Khan doesn't know what AI is!

Finally, thank you for noting the connections between Khanmigo, Microsoft, and OpenAI. I wasn't aware of those threads.


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I wouldn't necessarily recommend people take my word on the book as gospel if it still interests you, but I will say I was surprised at how non-substantive it was, given the subject and stakes of the discussion. If this is truly a revolution, we've got a lot of thinking to do.

My comment on Khan about teaching and teachers is my observation that he is indifferent to the classroom dynamics and relationships that I believe underpin learning. Khan academy is educational content. He sees tutoring as a sort of ideal form of teaching, but this is not necessarily the case. He seems to be incurious about how individuals and groups interact with systems and what happens in those interactions. To me, this is the stuff of teaching and learning.

I agree that teaching writing is hard, but I also think we've made it harder than it needs to be because of some wrong turns we've made in how we approach writing in schools. (This was the focus of my book, "Why They Can't Write.") Writing is difficult, but it can and should be rewarding, including for students as they're learning to write. We've been training them to pass assessments, which is not the same thing as helping them develop as writers. I think the existence of these tools and what they can do is a great occasion for rethinking what we've been doing.

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Thank you for differentiating between "classroom dynamics and relationships" and the "educational content" that Khan Academy offers. I understand and agree with your distinction.

I agree too that in the classroom "how individuals and groups interact with systems" leads to interesting discoveries. A student makes a comment, another student disagrees, a third student jumps in, the teacher summarizes their points on the board, etc.

That is a lot more dynamic and engaging than one-on-one tutoring! I miss that big group classroom back and forth, but I definitely do not miss tutoring.

Besides "training them to pass assessments", what other "wrong turns" have we "made in how we approach writing in schools"?

Should students write more fiction? Should they be taught the writing process?

Just curious.

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