Learning & Mastery

Yesterday I had some time to dig in my treasure trove. This is a long list of YouTube videos, I added to a list to watch them later. One of them was from Salman Khan, the founder of the Khan Academy. In his TED talk, he spoke about the educational system and the role mastery should play in it.

Before I start, please have a look at the website khanacademy.org. You can learn a variety of different subjects there. Unparalleled is the math section. However, I also enjoy the programming courses and the ones about the economy. The big community is working constantly to improve the platform and also to provide translations. Especially if you have kids, this platform might be a perfect fit for you and your children. And, it is for free. You can donate, if you are convinced of the offering and what they stand for, but all content is free of charge.

As I like the platform, a few years back I also bought his book titled: The One World Schoolhouse. It is a very interesting read and stirred up quite some feelings, as the topic is dear to me. I think we all have our stories to tell what does not work in our current educational systems. And yes, the educational system is already advanced and might be way better than in other countries. However, I still see pupils and students get out of it almost worse off than before. If you are interested in this topic, I can also recommend the books from Sir Ken Robinson.

In his second TED talk, Salman Khan speaks about mastery and learning. He questions the rating and score system many schools and universities have in place. He compared it with building a house. If we hire someone to build a house for us, and we come back to have the first inspection (test), we won’t say: “well there are some parts missing here and this doesn’t look very stable, so I will give it an 80% and you can move on.” Imagine you keep doing that until the complete house is done. Most likely, it won’t stand for very long.

However, that is what we do at school. You might get an 80% in math and you can move on to the next course, but what about those missing 20%? It is likely that you will have problems in other courses, because you would require the knowledge covered by those missing 20%. If that continues, you might tell yourself that you are just not made for this subject. Though, the real problem is that you didn’t get the time to really master the topic.

He proposes that we should deviate from focusing on scores and rather focusing on mastery. This speaks from my heart. I strongly believe that every person can achieve everything. However, we are not the same. This is also true for understanding things. Some of us might learn a topic faster than others. This doesn’t mean, if I need more time to understand it that I cannot be good at it.

Maybe you cannot change things at school right now. This doesn’t mean you cannot do something for yourself or your children to better cope with the educational system. Strive for mastery and you will have a foundation you can build on top everything you want.

Here is his TED talk:


Have a wonderful day and take care!


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