The Khan Academy Advocates Mastery Over Standardized Testing


The biggest problem with the current learning framework is students never master content. While tests expose gaps in mastery, teachers do nothing to address them. Salman Khan, the founder of Khan Academy, says that mastery learning is possible.

In a TED Talk, Khan argues that mastery and mindset are key to learning based on his experiences helping millions of students to master content on his platform, the Khan Academy. The academy offers free lessons, by the way.

the Khan Academy
Salman Khan |

The first thing he noted when he started teaching his cousins was that they had accumulated gaps in learning until they reached a point where they thought a math gene is what is required to excel. His instructional videos addressed those gaps, although he did not know that at the time. This may have been the biggest reason students appreciated his tutorials, even without him knowing.

Mastery Over Test Scores

Learning, according to him, should be mastery based just like learning a musical instrument or a martial art. The learner only progresses to the next and advanced level after mastering core competencies. The traditional academic model allows students to progress to the next step without mastery of the current or lower levels. The problem of unaddressed gaps grows bigger with time, as advanced topics build on previous topics, some of which students never master.

Learning, according to him, should be mastery based just like learning a musical instrument or a martial art. Click To Tweet

In real life, mastery is necessary to complete complicated tasks such as a building’s construction.  A small failure when laying the foundation could cause a collapse of the whole structure.  In a similar manner, unaddressed learning gaps are the reason most student struggle with math and other subjects.

Learning Outside the Khan Academy

The main problem with current learning model is time constraints. There is little time for students to master content. Also, educators operate on a non-mastery framework, believing that mastery of content is not possible. However, with videos-on-demand and simulation technologies, students can master content at their pace.

The main benefit of content mastery is almost everyone would join the creative class, which is currently the domain of an elite class of researchers and entrepreneurs. The mastery that would also allow people to work in jobs such as research is also an imperative given that automation is eliminating many sectors of manual labor.

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