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The Flipped Church – Insights From the Khan Academy

The Flipped Church – (insights from the Khan Academy)

I have recently become intrigued with  Khan Academy. For those who may not be familiar, the Khan Academy began when Salman Khan started long distance tutoring his niece in math by creating short YouTube videos on various math subjects. Fast forward several years and the Khan Academy has grown to include numerous subjects and is being used across the globe by everyone from adults wanting to brush up on their skills to children within the context of their public school classes.

If you listen to Khan talk about education or perhaps read his book The One World Schoolhouse: Education Reimagined, then you will hear about the concept of the “flipped classroom.” The idea is simple: instead of students coming to school to receive content from a teacher at the front of the room, now they can get the content at home and do the homework at school. Khan talks about how he is seeing the classroom “humanized” by teachers using the Khan academy in this way. Pupils come to school now to interact with the teacher, receive peer to peer tutoring and to progress at a personalized pace.

Sal has stumbled upon an idea about learning that many of us in simple church have also stumbled upon and I would argue it’s one that Jesus implemented in his discipleship method: Maximizing the benefits of human relationships are key in the learning process–not merely delivering and gathering content.   This is how Jesus operated His school.

So one way of thinking about simple church is that we, like Khan academy, are encouraging a flipped church.  Since Pentecost, the Church has had a personal instructor in the Holy Spirit who we can approach anytime, who speaks to us, and who “leads us into all understanding.” In addition, most now have a copy of the Scriptures available and likely a computer which provides unlimited content about those Scriptures. We can study God’s Word and receive the content and instruction on our own through the tutelage of the Holy Spirit (and perhaps a friend or two).  Then, when we gather as the Church, we can reinvent (or some may say recapture) that experience! We can allow peer-to-peer interaction. Multiple “teachers” can mingle and visit with individuals and help them understand the faith, meeting them where they are in their understanding and experience with Jesus. We can interact and participate.  We can ask questions and sharing insights.  We can teach one another, love one another, encourage one another, build up one another.  We can humanize our church gatherings!

“If you take lecture out of the classroom then there is no longer the need for people to move through at the same pace… as soon as you get rid of that assumption you can completely rethink what a classroom can be. You can leverage class time for human activity. ‘Why do we have one teacher in the room?’ (now) you can have two teachers… “ Sal Khan (After Words, CSpan2 Interview)

“Personal responsibility is not only undervalued but actually discouraged by the standard classroom model, with its enforced passivity and rigid boundaries of curriculum and time. Denied the opportunity to make even the most basic decisions about how and what they will learn, students stop short of full commitment.”
― Salman Khan, The One World Schoolhouse: Education Reimagined

“In a traditional classroom, the spread between the fastest and slowest students grows over time, [and so] putting them all in one class cohort eventually makes it exceedingly difficult to avoid either completely boring the fast students or completely losing the slow ones. Most school systems address this by… putting the “fastest” students in “advanced” or “gifted” class… and the slowest students into “remedial” classes. It seems logical… except for the fact that it creates a somewhat permanent intellectual and social division between students.”
― Salman Khan, The One World Schoolhouse: Education Reimagined

Salman Khan, TED talk

[ted id=1090]

See Also:

A “Radical” New Teaching Method Discoverd?

Child Driven Education — A Lesson For The Church?


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