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Learning How To Learn

This is what I mean by it.

College 2.0: A Self-Appointed Teacher Runs a One-Man ‘Academy’ on YouTube

If Mr. Khan is unfamiliar with a subject he wants to teach, he gives himself a crash course first. In a recent talk he explained how he prepared for his lecture on entropy: “I took two weeks off and I just pondered it, and I called every professor and everyone I could talk to and I said, Let’s go have a glass of wine about entropy. After about two weeks it clicked in my brain, and I said, now I’m willing to make a video about entropy.”

The most important point to note in this article: “There’s no reason why parents should have to save up a hundred grand to send their kids to college.” Professional academics do not make the best teachers, especially in university systems where professorship is awarded based on funded research and published journal articles, and not the quality or quantity of teaching. Like sports, hospitals and anything that started as a service, the business of higher education has become more important than the offering it was created to support. And we keep propping it up because we are a herd of cows addled with feelings of “tradition” and “prestige.” Edit: Oh yeah, don’t forget the self-imposed cattle prod of “accreditation.” What a racket.

I had the worst mathematics teachers growing up and refused to memorize anything they threw at me and almost flunked every single math test between first and tenth grades. Rote memorization is no way to learn. Hell, it’s not even learning. Really, truly, swear to God’s honest truth, it all clicked one day when one annoyed-as hell tutor named Mr. Kalra whispered through gritted teeth to me, “You are not dumb, so come off it. Stop, take a deep breath and teach yourself.” It wasn’t a grand epiphany, just a quiet but solid understanding right then and there:

Mindset is not permanent and “aptitude” is bullshit.

I have loved mathematics ever since that day.

So, kids: You don’t hate mathematics. Your teacher sucks. Teach yourself. Start with calculus. Trust me on this one.

Now if I can just as easily convince myself I can run a 5K.

Also see: Chronicle Of Higher Education >> Most Popular Education Technology Articles Of 2010

2 comments… add one
  • liprap January 5, 2011, 3:11 PM

    I HATED my algebra teacher in middle school, and, after nearly flunking it, had to take it over again in high school. The high school teachers were much, much better. The fact that it could be the teacher, not you, having the problem with your learning is a powerful lesson in itself.

  • Editor B January 5, 2011, 3:35 PM

    Even at institutions where teaching is emphasized over research, faculty are generally not prepared to teach. They learn that on the job, if they learn it at all.

    But, yeah, if you learn how to learn you’re set for life.

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