Johnzy903 karma

Hi there Sal, I'm a student in a terribly bureacratic city school system. One of the biggest problems I see is that many inner city students simply don't care or are apathetic. Do you have any suggestions on how we can motivate them to learn (and enjoy it too) so that they can 'make the curve'?

EDIT: Going to go along and tag onto this post, Mr. Khan has graciously released a video on his youtube channel just recently to answer more questions!

salman_khan_academy605 karma

Hard question and I don't claim to know the answer.

We are trying to experiment with some inner city charter schools and the results seem to be good (to early to make any definitive statement).

I think giving the student ownership of their learning and not forcing them through content that frustrates them is a first step, but, by no means, is a complete solution.

indoorprince840 karma

Hi, My name is Abhinav and I am 8 years old. I am doing this with permission of my Dad. I like khan academy and use it a lot. My question is - Why do you have questions and test for only math and not other subjects.

salman_khan_academy528 karma

Hi Abhinav,

We started with math because it is the core for so many other topics.

Expect to see questions on topics beyond math in the next year. things like physics, chemistry, finance, computer science, logic, and grammar.

[deleted]772 karma

When do you plan on making more advanced videos like quantum mechanics, general relativity and more advanced mathematics. Thanks and i love everything you do.

salman_khan_academy879 karma

We do want to do those topics eventually. It might be me or it might be a traditional expert in the field.

I will definitely do much more advanced mathematics in the next year than what we have now.

mnielsen231572 karma

I'd be interested in helping out with quantum computing. I co-authored the standard text on the subject.

salman_khan_academy686 karma

We are very open to it. Email me. I really want to learn more about quantum computing myself! Have you tried to make any videos?

mnielsen23565 karma

DM me your email on twitter (I'm @michael_nielsen), and I'll drop you an email.

salman_khan_academy222 karma

done. look forward to chatting

ctngu464 karma

I passed statistics and chemistry thanks to your videos. I appreciate you so much! So, here's a question. On average, how long does it take for you to create one of your tutorial videos?

salman_khan_academy830 karma

Depends on the video. If I do an example problem in, say, algebra, I don't do any prep so it takes me about 10 minutes. If I am thinking about introducing a complex topic that I already know well, I think about it on my walk to work so it may be 30 mins -1 hour total. If it is a topic that I need to brush up on, it might be half a day. When I did organic chemistry, I spent 2 weeks immersing myself in the subject before making the first video.

oragoner617 karma

Good to know that o chem is hard for you too.

salman_khan_academy534 karma

Yeah, it took some time to get the intuition for it. It would have been easy just to list reactions for people to memorize, but it only becomes interesting when you see the underlying themes.

[deleted]282 karma


salman_khan_academy493 karma

I agree. I consider myself the luckiest guy on the planet :)

MistahNiceGuy459 karma


salman_khan_academy474 karma

  1. I try to think of myself before I knew the topic. I try to think of what confused me.

  2. Depends on the video. Some require no research, some I spend a few hours on. I do, every now and then, ping a friend to get clarification on some edge-case.

3.That high school and college degrees are not ends by themselves. They are supposed to be means to an end and that end is a happy and productive life.

  1. No. I actually think the U.S. is no worse than any comparable country (think about any similarly diverse and large country). The US does have major problems with the education system, but at least the culture of the country is one that promotes creativity and entrepreneurship better than any place that I know of. I would make the US Education system more American (promoting creativity, ownership of learning, and independence) and less Prussian (moving together in an assembly line).

  2. Mark Twain. Muhammad Yunus. Bill Cosby. Richard Feynman. Bill Gates (regardless of how you feel about Microsoft, he has redefined philanthropy and is directly saving a ridiculous number of lives. He's also amazingly smart and down to earth) .

  3. No. I would feel helpless sitting on top of a bureaucracy. Would want to make videos or work with team on the software rather than sit in meeting or pass legislation.

  4. Definitely never want teams writing or scripting videos. Would ruin in the connection with the student. I've spoken to a few interesting people about quantum physics. I think Bill Cosby would be an amazing teacher.

  5. We'll experiment with language. Not sure what approach will work best.

ThymeZone342 karma

Which subject did you enjoy teaching the most?

salman_khan_academy979 karma

I know it might sound cheesy, but I get a kick out of all of them. I won't make a video on a topic unless I think there is something interesting about it and I enjoy it. The reality is that most things are really interesting if you look at it the right way.

draegar275 karma

Where has your site had the biggest impact? Are you seeing much use from developing nations? Can you share your best success story?

salman_khan_academy446 karma

We've gotten some pretty powerful testimonials. We've also been seeing good results in the schools using it in Los Altos.

I'll post some of my favorite stories below this comment:

salman_khan_academy726 karma

Blocked name for privacy (although I think he is probably cool with sharing it):

Hi my name is ****** ** and I'm a second year student in the University of Western Australia (UWA) majoring in Physics and Maths. I was originally from Singapore where I spent the first 15 years of my life failing school, day after day I would not understand a word the teacher was saying as they said, "you must remember this or you won't get a job in your future." and every year I would fail school. When I was 14, I started failing pretty badly and fell into a world of drug addiction. When I was 15, my drug addiction got so intense that it affected my grades so badly that I had to be held back a grade in my high school in Singapore. Finally in January 2008 (the year I was 16), my parents decided to move to Perth in Western Australia. They had me enrolled in a private school where within 8 months I was expelled for fighting and drugs. At the end of that ordeal and closely evading arrest, my parents had me enrolled in a local public school where I was faced with the worst problem of my entire life. The final exam of high school that determines if you go to University or not was coming, and I had no idea what to do as I never listened in class since I was 13. All I could do was expand a bracket and that was it, no factorizing, solving an equation or doing trigonometry. I first met the Khan Academy in December 2009 where I stumbled on his videos on Complex Numbers on YouTube. I had a whole load of heavy weight subjects like Literature, Physics, Advanced Maths, Chemistry and Biology. Everyday when I came home from school, it would be a 4pm - 10pm study session driven by my own fears. With 5 years of work to catch up on and only Khan Academy helping me, it was a grueling experience. I failed every test and exam that year, thankfully none of those tests and exams contribute to your final University determination grade. I worked through the Khan Academy playlists on Basic Algebra, Trigonometry, Physics, Chemistry and Biology before moving on to the "higher level" things like Calculus and Differential Equations. Thanks to Salman Khan for quitting his day job as a Hedge-fund Analyst, he has allowed a drug addict whom the public would look down upon to persevere through his A levels and come out on the other side with a result good enough to get into Western Australia's best University. I hope and pray that the Khan Academy will expand to do subjects like Modern Physics and Maths topics like Topology, Differential Geometry and so on. In any case, I thank you Salman Khan, and the effort you have put into the Khan Academy. You've opened doors for us that we would have never been able to unlock alone.

WhyAmINotStudying337 karma

It's funny, because I'm 32, I was a big fan of math and science when I was young, but at about 15 I fell in love with music so much that I pretty much dropped out of everything else. I stopped caring about any grades in school and focused on getting into a high-level music conservatory. I got into Manhattan School of Music, played with some of the best musicians in the world, had a great budding career, but time, life, family, and opportunity never quite got to a point where I could feel close to being able to support a family comfortably. A classical musician, after all, has to live in an expensive city to find work.

I am back in school studying for Engineering. I am actually starting on January 9th, but I have to take another placement exam on January 3rd, because I've placed too high on the school's standard exam and if I do well enough, I could knock 3 more courses (to the tune of 3 semesters) off of my goal.

I've been unemployed more often than not in the past 4 years and I decided that I was going to change my life drastically. I know the tools can be found in other places to get what I want accomplished, but your work is so helpful in filling my head with the right things at the right stages.

I haven't done any math for about 17 years, yet in the past few months, you have taught me enough to give me so much of what I desperately needed in order to achieve my dreams. I've never met you, yet you have done so much for me.

Why am I not studying? Because I wanted to take a moment to thank my teacher.

salman_khan_academy261 karma

Thank you. That means a lot to me and the team here!

salman_khan_academy412 karma

Got this a few weeks ago from South Africa:

I home school our two daughters. One had an excellent maths experience at school - the other (now aged 10) had huge gaps in her understanding. The visual knowledge map is so incredibly helpful to her and I - she can see what the next step is and not lose sight of the big picture. I am working through the videos and exercises myself too, building up the sections on my knowledge map so that I can stay ahead of the game for my daughters. Sal is our tutor: polite, concise, friendly, and efficient in delivering knowledge. Most importantly, this work is given for free. For a family functioning on limited resources when we started our home education journey, this is invaluable. Thank you so much for your gift to humanity. I am deeply deeply grateful - you have changed our children's lives.

Replies_With_GIFs141 karma

I am deeply deeply grateful - you have changed our children's lives.

salman_khan_academy165 karma


applenerd270 karma

What or who inspired you most to take so much time to do something so significant?

salman_khan_academy525 karma

For me, it started very incrementally. I always hoped that it would be "significant" to many people, but what convinced me to keep going was the positive feedback from cousins and the early people who bumped into the videos on YouTube. Figured it was worth doing even if it just helped out a handful of people. Everything else is gravy :)

Exchange_262 karma

As an aspiring teacher, do you have any tips for new teachers?

salman_khan_academy556 karma

All of my best teachers talked with the students rather than at them. They were also unscripted but had deep subject matter expertise.

EDIT: just added this verbal answer to this and many of the other questions:

salman_khan_academy30 karma

Here's a verbal answer to your question and a bunch more:

JonathanTruant220 karma

How was presenting at TED? Who was the most interesting person you met?

salman_khan_academy365 karma

I actually was running a super-high fever the night before and almost canceled. My wife gave me a dose of tylenol that only doctors should give. I was happy to just be standing :)

TED is a surreal event. A lot of interesting people there.

wakipaki177 karma

how was it when bill gates said, "you're taking a peek into the future of education!" i wouldve been peeing my pants man.

salman_khan_academy286 karma

I did that the first time we met :)

Minifig81197 karma

Who were your favorite teachers when you were growing up and why?

salman_khan_academy354 karma

Mrs. Roussell - elementary school GT/Art teacher. First teacher who expected us to be creative rather than just following directions. She was hilarious too.

Mrs. Ellis - 5th grade social studies teacher - treated us 5th graders like we were grad students. Ran her class like a good college seminar. Really treated us as equals and listened to what we said.

Mr. Hernandez - high school math teacher - Advisor for the math club. Once again, treated students as an equal and expected a lot from them.

Mrs. Kennedy - high school journalism - Once again, more like a mentor or experienced adviser for those of us on the newspaper. Felt like we were on the same team. Really smart and witty too.

I am sure that I am forgetting others...

beanbags1177 karma

Your accounting videos saved my grades.

How do you decide which topics to cover?

salman_khan_academy217 karma

Some combination of need and my personal interest. Need could come from a really popular subject that a lot of people have trouble with (like organic chemistry) or a narrower subject where there aren't good explanations out there (like credit default swaps)

dbigthe163 karma

How fast is khan academy catching on? Are there plans to expand / increase the developers of the program?

salman_khan_academy296 karma

We've had roughly 4 million unique users this past month. Was 1 million this time last year. Our team is now 22 people and we are hiring about 1 person per month. Most of the expansion is on the software engineering side, but we are also adding a few other video producers.

hyperddude146 karma

If you could reform public education, what would you do?

salman_khan_academy176 karma

Talk about some ideas at:

I think it won't be done with top-down government policies though. I believe that when a critical mass of parents and students see other students doing amazing things with their time, the change will happen from the ground up.

flipping_monkey143 karma

What do you think of MIT's new online course system, especially given that you're the commencement speaker there?

salman_khan_academy194 karma

Depending on how they execute on the vision,MITx is a much bigger deal than most people realize. Signals that MIT is moving away from large lectures and towards even more self-paced, project-based learning.

The fact that anyone will be able to get an MITx credential for very little could send a shockwave through higher education. It sounds like it will be at a very rigorous standard so it probably won't be for everyone.

I see our role at the KA as getting as many people as possible to the point that they can benefit from something like MITx.

Between OpenCourseWare and MITx, very proud to be an alumnus.

Arronwy27 karma

How do you think a MITx credential will compare to say a Bachelors degree in the same subject? Right when it goes live and in the future?

salman_khan_academy90 karma

I would interview a job candidate who did well on the MITx exam for algorithms or software engineering, regardless of where (or if) they went to college and I think many employers would. In the end, you just want to find smart, hard-working, passionate people to work with. In fact, they would get bonus points for learning the material in a non-formal setting (shows that they are self-learners).

faptastical138 karma

What made you study for so many degrees? (Three from MIT and an MBA from Harvard!)

Also, thanks a lot and much respect from me, a student from Hong Kong. You make learning truly enjoyable.

salman_khan_academy225 karma

MIT let you take as many courses as you wanted for the same tuition. I was the hungry kid at the all-you-can-eat buffet :)

My prime motivation for going back to Boston in 2001 to get an MBA was to find a wife (and it worked). Silicon Valley in the late 1990s was not a great place to be a young single guy. My secondary motivation was to broaden my experiences and allow me to think about what I really wanted to do longer term (I did end up changing careers).

cornmountain22 karma

Just curious, how did you meet your wife in Boston? :)

salman_khan_academy51 karma

She was a freshman at MIT when I was a senior. I wanted to date her then, but nothing happened. I met her again after moving back to Boston (and pursued her with more determination). She was in med school in NYC at this point, but was back in Boston visiting friends.

kirbz14130 karma

I want you to know that if it wasn't for you, I would have failed out of my AP Biology class. Thank you!

salman_khan_academy152 karma

Thank you. That means a lot to us!

sydler113 karma

How do I get my kids to enjoy learning about math and science? My husband and I always struggled with these subjects so we have no interest in them and are not proficient in them at all. We don't want our kids to have that same struggle. Advice?

salman_khan_academy268 karma

You and your husband should rediscover math and science for yourselves (and I know a good website for this :) ). If you both do it, it will change the conversation at the dinner table!

lameparadox112 karma

Your favorite book? Movie?

salman_khan_academy313 karma

Books: Confederacy of Dunces, Catcher in the Rye, Dune, Ender's Game (the entire series), Foundation Series, Lord of the Rings, Childhood's End (Arthur C. Clarke), Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Courth (Twain), Tale of Two Cities, Pride and Prejudice.

Movies: Gandhi (try to watch it once a year), Star Wars.

salman_khan_academy117 karma

Oh, I forgot Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

johnsmcjohn105 karma

First and foremost, thank you for doing this IAMA, and thank you for Khan Academy. When you are doing a lesson is it all in one take? And how do you plan each lesson out?

salman_khan_academy162 karma

I'd say that 90% are in 1 take. 99% are 2 takes. I try to clarify my thinking about I don't do any formal planning/scripting. I find that the best videos are ones where you have a very clear understanding of the topic and you have a big smile on your face and you just think it through with the viewer :)

slybear97 karma

Do you ever think about what you've achieved with Khan Academy in the short amount of time its been around, and if so how does it make you feel, do you feel like you have a legacy?

salman_khan_academy226 karma

It has been strange in a good way. I try not to think about things like "legacies". We're still a young organization and I don't want to be complacent.

Most important thing is that we put our head down and keep making/improving things.

toobulkeh83 karma

What does Khan Academy need the most right now? How can we help?

salman_khan_academy128 karma

4 million students are using it, but there are 40 million just in the US. Help get the word out that it exists.

realwords78 karma

What were YOUR grades like in high school?

salman_khan_academy169 karma

they were good

dan306776 karma

How would you compare the value of in person lectures to that of online learning?

salman_khan_academy178 karma

In person conversations can be hugely valuable. I was a big fan of the case method in business school.

A one-way lecture in a large hall can sometimes be appropriate for the shared experience, especially if it is more focused on inspiration and big ideas rather than dense material.

I, personally, like to get my head around a subject (through books, videos, websites, etc.) before I engage in real-time with people. I never asked questions in class for fear of looking silly or holding everyone else up. Always figured I should try to get my question answered offline with the book or by asking a friend.

pon0005074 karma

So..the Khanacademy website says "watch, practice. Learn almost anything for free". Why don't I see any videos on the subject of foreign languages? It is understandable that you can't teach everything but why not bring in the experts on the field? You don't have to be the one who does all the videos. P.S. You are pretty much my idol.

salman_khan_academy117 karma

I can barely speak English :)

Seriously, we will try to eventually address this. Don't know exactly how and there is a lot other stuff in the pipeline, but, i agree, it is important.

meetaw70 karma

How much time do you spend working on your videos a day ? How taxing is it ?

salman_khan_academy153 karma

I try to still spend at least 50% of my day making videos. My brain does kind of ache after making 4 or 5, especially if they're in complex domains.

TheIronSquid64 karma

Would you consider making videos that teach less purely academic topics, such as chess maneuvers/techniques or music theory?

salman_khan_academy86 karma

We're looking into it. I've been talking to a guy who might be great at music theory (which I want to learn!).

haltingpoint57 karma

What do you think it will take to fully disrupt the education space?

And by fully disrupt, I mean make it so that alternative educational plans (such as Khan Academy) become acceptable and respected forms of education when it comes to employers looking at resumes.

salman_khan_academy58 karma

I think this will happen sooner than later. MIT's MITx project might provide those credentials.

bipsmith56 karma

Mr. Khan,

First of all, congratulations on the success of Khan Academy.

I work in education and your site is usually mentioned very positively. How would you respond to the idea that some people believe your videos are a replacement or an improvement on traditional education? I've heard critics caution that people relying on the Academy to teach them are doing 20th Century Learning (memorization and drilling with formulas and ideas without real-world application) instead of 21st Century Learning (application of concepts to solve new problems and challenges).

I can see both things being valuable, but I've always wanted to ask you: Where do you see Khan Academy fitting in the context of a person's complete education?

salman_khan_academy91 karma

We are still trying to fully figure out the implications of what we're doing. I do think that the traditional MODEL needs to change. I also think that the model we've been experimenting with makes the teacher more important, not less.

I try my best to make things about intuition and real understanding rather than pattern-matching or memorization. I see us as a tool to liberate class time to focus on more creative activities.

In the ideal world, the Khan Academy will progress to the point that you can get a deep understanding of most topics independently and "school" will be a physical place and support network that helps you explore and apply what you know (build robots, start businesses, write a book)

NoahSavedTheAnimals52 karma

Do you believe that Khan Academy could one day educate third world countries for free based on the rapid progression of technology and the broad expanse of Khan Academy?

salman_khan_academy69 karma

We think we might be able to help. I see no reason why, in 5 or 10 years, the technology and bandwidth wouldn't be cheap enough to make this possible.

The state of Sonora in Mexico is about to launch a very ambitious program to do just this.

[deleted]52 karma

What subjects do you plan on teaching in the future. BTW I love your videos.

salman_khan_academy123 karma

Planning on doing micro/macroeconomics in January. Computer science and accounting are also in the pipeline.

kasra1232148 karma

What was your dream job growing up as kid?

salman_khan_academy76 karma

I wanted to be a car designer or architect. Some part of me still wants to.

anupakkihal44 karma

Recently watched your lesson on Fractional Reserve Banking. Do you find it difficult to remain apolitical while teaching topics that are so politically relevant today?

salman_khan_academy73 karma

Yes, sometimes. The funny thing is that fractional reserve banking is not that politically charged because so few people understand it.

YThatsSalty42 karma

Thanks for doing what you do.

In the beginning, how long did each video take to prepare and post. What about now?

How many people does it take to produce and distribute your content? Where does the money come from?

What awesome future plans are in the works?

salman_khan_academy80 karma

The first videos took almost no time to prepare for since I thought they were only for my cousins :) It is probably obvious from the quality...

The videos take very few people, but we have a team of 22 working on our site (and working with schools to improve the experience)

kevin010340 karma


salman_khan_academy81 karma

I've made the bulk of the videos. We do now have 300 videos in art history that are made by Beth Harris and Stephen Zucker.

peterxu42236 karma

Sal, a lot of STEM students are overwhelmed by the challenges and pressures of an education in such a field. Many drop out (recent article in the NYT) as a result because they can't handle the difficulty. You went to MIT and received 3 degrees. Did you ever have "trouble" with your classes? Any point where you wanted to quit and switch majors? How did you cope with the stress?

salman_khan_academy56 karma

Few people get through MIT without a little bit of stress (I once got 15/100 on an exam at MIT) :)

I was lucky, because I had taken a lot of courses at the University of New Orleans while in high school (and had some experience programming for a professor, Dr. Santanilla, there). So I was seeing many of the topics the second time at MIT (and I was ready to tackle them at a more sophisticated level).

My best advice I can give you is try to expose yourself to the concepts BEFORE taking a class. You might be able to learn with the class, but there is often little margin of error once the term starts.

If you do find yourself in a really stressful bind, take a breath and put everything in perspective. I know many, many people who have rebounded from a bad grade to do amazing things.

[deleted]34 karma


salman_khan_academy50 karma

Mark Twain

swaggervance33 karma

what is the academic subject you know the least about?

salman_khan_academy69 karma

Too many to list. Could start with French Lit.

guitard00d12324 karma

What made you switch from being a hedge fund analyst to, as you say, doing something of "social value"? Thanks for your videos, your work is truly revolutionary and exactly what the education system needs.

salman_khan_academy57 karma

I sometimes make fun of my old career, but it was very intellectually challenging and I worked with some very impressive/smart/nice people. Intellectually, it wasn't so different than making videos (had to learn about and develop ideas about many, many different aspects of the world).

In the end, the videos were just more satisfying (and I get to learn about even more things!). Whenever I am confronted with a major decision like this, I think "what would the protagonist in a sci-book do?"

Shmoogy23 karma

I've heard that you want to be the only teacher for courses offered on Khan Academy, but with so much to cover, it's not really possible-- Have you watched videos from any of the youtube personalities who teach subjects through videos? Are there any people whose methods you actually feel work well alongside yours?

PS- Without you, I don't think I would have been able to pass my beginner courses and finish my engineering degree, so thanks a lot for your efforts.

salman_khan_academy20 karma

We are adding other teachers.

lostcheshire22 karma

Do you have plans to expand the "Map of Knowledge" feature to all subjects?

salman_khan_academy19 karma

Overtime, we will try to expand to as many areas as is suitable.

[deleted]20 karma


salman_khan_academy26 karma

Yes, I have been remaking many of the older, low-res videos that had the bad handwriting.

We thinking we are just beginning. Hopefully, KA will have 10 times as much video and exercise content over the next 10 years.

Znt20 karma

Are you planning to release videos as torrents?

salman_khan_academy37 karma

I believe this has already happened

clemsonomatopoeia12 karma

Do you have a process for vetting who teaches your courses? Could you go into the details of how you find teachers?

salman_khan_academy19 karma

Easy process when it is only me (although others have started doing art history videos)

We are still trying to figure out a good vetting process to get others into the mix.