Sal Khan, Suli Breaks and a Love of Education

Readers who follow 3D Eye on Twitter might have seen a recent tweet with a link to Suli Breaks, whose performance videos include “Why I Hate School But Love Education” and “I Will Not Let An Exam Result Decide My Fate” –

These are remarkable pieces of work performed in a style that’s new to us – almost like essays spoken to camera without any music backing track or any attempt to “rhyme” or “rap”.

Suli Breaks

After leaving the University of Sheffield with few more job prospects than when he started, Suli Breaks’ pursued a career in poetry, fuelled by disbelief in our current formal education system.

‘The University Of Suli Breaks’ balances funny with informative, and tackles many of today’s toughest issues – education, racism, as well as providing insight in to the artist’s own personal life.

Suli has been hailed by many high-profile people . . . to be a poetry pioneer of the new school as well as constantly being considered to be in the upper echelon of the current generation of poets taking the world by storm.

Much like his predecessors Shakespeare, Bob Marley, Tupac, Michael Jackson, Picasso, Einstein, Ghandi and many more, Suli Breaks touches the world through art and creative thought. His words are refreshingly accessible. He tells his stories in the everyman’s tongue. His message should resonate whoever you are, wherever in the world.

The question we should continue to ask is, why is there such “disbelief in our current formal education system”? Because this disbelief does indeed resonate throughout our society, and throughout the world, even amongst those who graduate from university.

Why do so many “hate school” whilst continuing to “love education”?

Mark Twain

Do we care whether this situation continues, and if so, what should we do about it?

Throughout these 3D Eye posts we’ve tried to describe the type of education that we believe is fit for the 21st Century, and we’ll continue to do so.

Sal Khan is another highly gifted and talented individual with a genuine passion for real education. The Guardian recently published an article about him.

Sal Khan

Sal Khan has a simple mission: a free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere. Naturally, people think he’s crazy. The craziest part is not the “world-class education” part, because plenty of people want that. And it’s not even the “for anyone, anywhere” part. It’s the “free” part.

Crazy or not, it’s an idea that has attracted attention from Downing Street to Washington DC. And like a lot of crazy ideas, it started by accident.

Khan – working as a financial analyst in 2004 after earning degrees from MIT and an MBA from Harvard – started remotely tutoring his cousin, Nadia, in Louisiana, who was struggling with maths. “Then the rest of the family heard there was free tutoring,” he says, and more relatives started taking part. The demands got too much – until a friend suggested he could film the tutorials, post them on YouTube and let the family members view them whenever they chose.

“YouTube? YouTube was for cats playing the piano, not serious mathematics,” Khan recalls thinking. “I got over the idea that it wasn’t my idea and decided to give it a shot.”

Since 2009, Khan has devoted himself full-time to his Khan Academy, a tutoring, mentoring and testing educational website at that offers its content free to anyone with internet access willing to work through its exercises and pithy videos, the majority narrated by Khan himself.

“It’s no exaggeration to say that there’s a revolution coming in education, sparked by Sal Khan,” says Rohan Silva, a Downing Street senior adviser on technology.

Using the internet to widen access to education is not itself revolutionary. The success of . . . massive open online courses – nicknamed Moocs – at institutions such as Stanford University show the appetite is there.

But the Khan Academy is different. Although it also carries tutorials in arts, computing and science, its core remains secondary school maths, in which it couples hand-holding video instruction with online exercises, from basic addition and multiplication to the farther reaches of algebra and calculus. There’s no accredited qualifications, just a self-paced course combined with sophisticated software that charts progress and highlights weaknesses, making it simple for a parent to use to help a child with homework without knowing the finer points of algebra.
Khan is no fan of traditional education, which he derides as “lecture, homework, lecture, homework”. “The real problem is that the process is broken,” he tells his LSE audience, to nods of approval. “We identify the gaps [in children’s knowledge], then we ignore them.”

Khan Academy

Read the rest of the article here:

Consider this week’s UK news and commentary about the need to tweak exam results to allow for underachievement amongst summer-born children, and then consider the need for a worldwide revolution in the way that education as a whole is perceived and organised. They’re already getting it in places like Finland, Singapore and China. When will the rest of us?

About 3D Eye

Gary Foskett and Clare Blackhall are educationalists, writers and consultants. We work with schools and other organisations who share our vision of how schools, businesses, etc should work in the 21st Century. We also run courses and contribute to conferences - speaking about our three dimensional model of intelligences and how schools, colleges and universities can develop the full potential of all their staff and students. We also offer consultancy for businesses and public sector organisations to support staff training and organisational change and development. For more detailed information read our blog at or see our website at
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1 Response to Sal Khan, Suli Breaks and a Love of Education

  1. Pingback: “Aims talk” | James' reading list

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