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To Boldly Go

A USC Rossier discussion with education innovator Sal Khan

photo credit – Brian Morri

The day after giving USC Rossier’s commencement address, Sal Khan, founder and CEO of Khan Academy, returned to campus to participate in a discussion following the second annual L.A. Education Exchange, hosted by USC Rossier and the Center for Engagement-Driven Global Education (EDGE).

“Earlier today we brought together a small working group of passionate advocates and decision-makers from the education, entertainment and policy spaces for a productive discussion of the ways storytelling can affect social change,” said Karen Symms Gallagher, the Emery Stoops and Joyce King Stoops Dean of USC Rossier. “We are so pleased to continue this discussion with Sal Khan.”

“If we’re thinking about anybody who has used technology to disrupt, transform and improve teaching outcomes, it’s Sal Khan,” said Alan Arkatov, Center EDGE founding director and USC Rossier’s Katzman/Ernst Chair for Education, Entrepreneurship and Innovation. “I hope that we’ll all be thinking about his work as it relates to ours.”

Some highlights from Khan:

“One of the biggest bets that society has ever made was coincident with the Industrial Revolution: free mass public education. I suspect if we didn’t make that massive—and utopian—bet 200 years ago, that we would not have had the 20th century that we did.

“As we go into this third Industrial Revolution, I think we have to educate ourselves out of it. We need an inverted labor pyramid where almost anyone can operate it at the top in the creative class and be entrepreneurs and explorers.”

“With the Industrial Revolution, you have this factory model where students have to move in lockstep, but it’s inevitable that some students will have gaps. But the whole class has to move on, and eventually those gaps accumulate until you hit a wall. People think they can’t do things—they don’t think they have a math brain, for example—but it’s really just these gaps, which you can address.”

“I always did like looking at Star Trek from an economics point of view, because economics is the study of how do you allocate resources that are scarce. In the Star Trek universe, things are not seemingly scarce: There’s a replicator if you need a cup of coffee; there are resources, and in that world everyone is a researcher, teacher, explorer and artist. Why shouldn’t that be the case for us, too, if we are no longer in a scarcity world?

“In a lot of ways, we’re getting faster to that Star Trek reality with technology, but it doesn’t feel that our social fabric is keeping pace. I view this as the epicenter of what schools of education like USC Rossier are trying to understand: How do we prepare humanity for being able to navigate the world the right way?”

WATCH the entire discussion: ► rsoe.in/SalKhanQA