I was in a car the other day with friends who don’t pay much attention to education issues, and one asked me, “Who is this guy who figured out how to teach math to everyone?” He said he read about him in Time magazine. Thus is a myth created.

I am not a reliable critic of math methods, it’s not my field so I have not assayed a view of Khan and his videos.

But today I read a devastating critique. The bottom line: the videos aren’t very good and neither is the math.

I have a tendency to want to see educational ideas developed in a sober and careful way, because I know of US education’s tendency to jump on bandwagons and adopt the latest fad and new thing. Teachers tend to be skeptical of quick fixes and properly so.

It is not that they are resistant to innovation, but they are resistant to hype, and properly so.

The author, Karim Kai Ani, writes as follows:

The real problem with Khan Academy is not the low-quality videos or the absence of any pedagogical intentionality. It’s just one resource among many, after all. Rather, the danger is that we believe the promise of silver bullets – of simple solutions to complex problems – and in so doing become deaf to what really needs to be done.

As Arne Duncan said, we need to invest in professional development, and provide teachers with the support and resources they need to be successful. We need to give them time to collaborate, and create relevant content that engages students and develops not just rote skills but also conceptual understanding. We have to help new teachers figure out classroom management – to reach the student who shows up late to class every day and never brings a pencil – and free up veteran teachers to mentor younger colleagues.

I recently attended the inaugural #TwitterMathCamp, a collection of teachers who traveled from around the country (plus two Canucks!)…during their vacation…and paid out of pocket…to discuss how best to introduce proportions and whether slope always requires units.

We need to stop focusing on the teachers who are doing it wrong and instead recognize the ones who are doing it right: the Frank Noscheses and the Kate Nowaks; the Sadie Estrellas and the Sam Shaws; the ones who spend their time trying to become better to make someone else’s kids smarter.