Many in my English classes have struggled with understanding even concepts that are considered "basic" at the high school level. The reality is (at least that I have observed) that important skills pertinent to literature and writing are not always taught, or students don't always understand or learn the skills well enough. Many of these have many ways one can apply the skill to a situation, which results in a rather large cloud of ambiguity and lack of understanding.
I think it would serve a huge benefit to the world if KA were to have a course or set of courses dedicated to the development of important skills that are required to succeed today. This would be especially useful for those learning to speak English and learn the language in all of its intricacies.
I also want to note that I do understand that creating content for such a course is not as simple as creating content for math. If you think about the hierarchy of subjects (Math --> Physics --> Chemistry --> Biology --> Humanities, etc.) the subject matter evolves in complexity and subjectivity. However, amidst the difficulties with English course content, I think it would not only serve to benefit the world to have a central course covering many important English skills and concepts (as well as establish their value), but will also propel Khan Academy in that they have been able to create something many will never dare to.
I think it would be absolutely amazing to have a section dedicated to interpreting literary works, fitted with:
- Reading and annotation strategies
- Effective annotation and summary building
- Using examples from the text
- Using textual evidence
- Character analysis support
- Symbolism and learning to recognize it
- Allusions & common sources
- When and how to use Old English and Middle English words
- When and how to use unfashionable/dated, archaic, and obsolete words
- The differences between American English and British English word spellings
- Greek & Latin roots, and how to identify the meanings of unfamiliar words
- A reading list with IMPORTANT works to read
- MLA format, along with the other formatting standards
- Other content that will help others write on their own well and in developing a strong writing intuition
- Learning to use spellcheck, and being aware of its flaws (as well as other programs)
- SOURCES: Thoroughly conveying the importance of citing sources and the various ways to do so & WHY*
Sometimes the perceived 'beast' of all English courses:
- Constructing an essay (basic layout & strategies)
- How to develop strong elements of an essay
- How to assemble all of the essay elements into a sound essay
- Creating a strong thesis (basic and advanced)
- Constructing an effective introduction
- Constructing solid bodies of evidence
- Different essay styles
- The myriad of essay strategies and use of literary devices
- How to create unique and standout essays to propel yourself
- How to write a college-level essay (not the usual 5 paragraphs)**
English skills as they apply to APPLICATIONS
- Ways to identify and boil down writting requirements & challenges
- How to stand out and create compelling work
- How to go above and beyond
- Training to write formally, effectively, and efficiently
*The evaluation of sources is also pertinent to social studies as well. I think this need this be heavily emphasized, as well as the reality that what we hear today is not always factual. This is integral to building sound arguments (especially pieces expected in higher education).
**I've recently written a nearly 10 paragraphy essay on the Fourth Amendment in the Digital Age for an essay contest through the Ninth Circuit, and realized that the amount of pre-drafting preparation and editing process was incredibly challenging.
Content on the drafting and constructing processes for such a paper(not isolated to this topic/instance, of course) would be incredibly useful to those working to make strides and stand out in a competitive environment. I'd be happy to detail what I have personally done and help with the building of such content (as with everything else detailed herein).
It is incredibly important to write well in today's increasingly interconnected world, and it would be a truly amazing addition to the already superb content of Khan Academy.
There is so much involved in writing that many discount it as something unimportant or even irrelevant. If Khan Academy can eventually integrate this much needed support, I think the world would benefit incredibly.
UPDATED [Additional thoughts]:
I also wanted to add that I have felt alone at times when trying to write essays, specifically in middle school. At that time, I wasn't too familiar with resources and the teachers constantly shifted, though I did have my parents to guide me. It is incredibly useful and impactful to have a strong guide when going further in your journey to write well. I hope to see Khan Academy providing a strong and expansive English course that can serve as a constant for all students to learn from.
Now I'm much more adept, and I'm happy to help others with their essays (incredible considering how there was a time where I, like many others, unfortunately, did not look upon essays as something fun to do). I feel incredibly lucky, because I know from experience that there are many who did not have the opportunity to learn critical writing skills like I have, and I would to like to play some part in helping others build such important skills for their futures.