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Tuesday, September 21, 2010
If you are interested in new ideas, education, and how businesses develop, you'll probably enjoy this article on how the Khan Academy came to be. If you are a member of a teacher's union, you'll cringe and give all kinds of reasons why the academy is harmful. There's a famous quote which goes into how people have a hard time understanding logic when it affects their wallet. It applies here.
What I like about Khan is that he gives the basics. In education today, there is a huge push for group problem solving and critical thinking. Form a group and ask them to figure out how to solve the housing crisis. Sounds great. After all they will teach themselves! Make them produce their evidence etc., etc. There is one small problem with all of this - students don't know the basics! They don't know the difference between the Treasury department and the Federal Reserve. They don't know the difference between the National Debt and the Federal Deficit. They don't know the basics of exchange rate effects. You may as well go to a local bar and ask out loud why the economy is screwed up. It's like a carpenter trying to build a shed when he is clueless about measuring and sawing.
Again, this is where Khan comes in. He is great at teaching the basics in a non-frills way; and people are obviously responding. Apparently, some are responding to a greater extent than they are to their college professors which is, of course, a bit threatening. And unions are quick to pick up on any such threat.
In the same vein, I detect a negative reaction to blogging on the part of educators. The first response I hear is that there is a lot of misinformation. This is true, but it is also true that there is a lot of learning that is obviously taking place; and the fact of the matter is the formal education system is not increasing the financial literacy in this country.
Personal finance blogs are.
At least, that's the way I see it.