Education is always a hot topic but in the past few years there have been some amazing developments. Good education is important because it can help address the root cause of some of our bigger challenges today. There seems to be a paradigm shift from an industrial solution that thinks as long as someone follows a certain process you’ll get the same result to discussions/approaches that revolve around an approach that is organic and encourages imagination. I’m sure we’ve all asked ourselves, “what’s my purpose?” or “Isn’t there something more to life than this job?”. More and more today people are learning to follow their passions to make a life rather than a living. Below I introduce 2 of many major outlets for obtaining a world class education for free. To me, this is important because one of our greatest untapped resources is human potential. So many powerful minds in this world that never got a chance to grow and contribute to the global consciousness.
About 3 years ago now, maybe more, I was reading Inc Magazine and came across an article about Salman Kahn. He is founder of the now well established Kahn Academy. The story blew me away and opened my mind to so many amazing possibilities. We need an education revolution, as Ken Robinson says, and he has gotten the wheels turning. Sal was working as a financial analyst in 2004 after earning degrees from MIT and an MBA from Harvard.
The rest of the story goes like this (excerpt pulled directly from Kahn Academy website) – Kahn Academy’s Start“In August 2004, Sal Khan began remotely tutoring his cousin, Nadia, who was struggling with “unit conversion”. This “swiss-cheese” gap in her knowledge was not allowing her to be placed in the more advanced Math track. Since Nadia was in New Orleans and Sal was in Boston working at a hedge fund at that time, Sal started tutoring her via telephone and Yahoo Doodle after work. As Nadia improved in math class, Sal began tutoring her brothers Arman and Ali. Eventually, word got around and he was tutoring a handful of his cousins and family members. Scheduling became a real issue and Sal started recording videos and posting them on YouTube in 2006 so everyone could watch on their own. More and more people kept watching, and Sal has continued to make videos ever since.
The organization was incorporated as a 501c(3) non-profit in 2008. Sal continued to work on Khan Academy during his spare time until the fall of 2009, when he quit his hedge fund job and decided to pursue the endeavor full-time. He lived off of his savings for the first 9 months until he received his first significant donation from Ann Doerr. In September 2010, Khan Academy received large grants from Google ($2 million) and the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation ($1.5 million) and began to build out an organization. Sal called on Shantanu Sinha from McKinsey & Company to join as President & COO. They were former high-school math competitors in New Orleans, freshman-year roommates at MIT, and long-time friends. They immediately hired Ben Kamens and Jason Rosoff both from Fog Creek Software to head up software development and design. The small team moved into office space in October 2010.”
You can check out Salman Khan’s book: The One World Schoolhouse: Education Reimagined
His method of teaching many through the use of video has opened up the doors for great scale. People learn on their own time, they don’t have to raise their hand to say “I still don’t get it”, and they can move at their own pace. So simple, so brilliant.
Whatever you’re interested in you can jump right in and learn it. So check it out here.
Since this all took place, many other platforms have opened their doors to the idea of free education. One amazing example is Coursera which started in 2012 by Stanford professors Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng. From their website – “Coursera is an education platform that partners with top universities and organizations worldwide, to offer courses online for anyone to take, for free. We envision a future where everyone has access to a world-class education. We aim to empower people with education that will improve their lives, the lives of their families, and the communities they live in.”
Personally, I have taken 2 of their classes. One from University of Maryland and the other from Duke. Both were very well done and easy to follow and work with others. It does take a stronger desire and commitment to stick with it but that’s easy when you are doing something you WANT to do. We all think that it would be so hard because we are judging based on our past experience with “school” which is that it sucks and we don’t like it. They really messed us up, haha. Humans are born with curiosity and the love to learn, so find a class on something you love for you and not for money. It will have it’s own payoff.