“Human teachers will become far more valuable in the future.”
room,” in which students take instruction online outside of class and do their “homework” in the classroom. He also questions Western orthodoxies, such as how many years we attend school, at what age we begin, and why we think it reasonable to move past a unit of study with anything less than total mastery of it.
According to Khan, “the biggest misconception is that this whole project is somehow a way to replace human teachers.” But, he says, “human teachers will become far more valuable in the future because [the classroom] will be a more interactive place and they are going to be doing the things computers cannot do, which is form bonds, motivate, mentor, diagnose.”
“If you take the point of view that this is a tremendous aid to teachers in the classroom, then you get where we’re coming from,” agrees Subbarayan. “It’s student-centric learning, so … the teacher can be more of an orchestrator and guide their students into learning … The teacher’s value increases.”
It is late at night when I leave Los Altos. After about ten minutes of mutually agreeable silence, my cab driver suddenly announces we are passing the NASA Research Centre.
In a community rich with innovation, something about this particular achievement, the exploration of another planet, seems to have powerfully captured the imaginations of the locals. It brings to mind the bookshelves in Khan’s office, filled with science-fiction books by the likes of Isaac Asimov and Ursula Le Guin.
“Just as computer science is missing from our school system, so is science fiction,” he says.
“Yet it’s so important because it’s about dreaming. I mean, I love Victorian novels, the way they capture the nuances of the human condition. But you have to dream, too, and that is missing right now.”