Orly Friedman
Orly Friedman

Orly Friedman, Head of Khan Academy Lower School is the keynote speaker at our upcoming 10th Anniversary celebration.

In a brief interview, she shared bits of her wisdom, insights and passion for “creating student agency”. Here are a few insights from Orly Friedman to tantalize you in preparation for the big event on May 6th at Piedmont Community Hall.

“I always found it a complete fallacy to have the students as the sole focus. Because if teachers aren’t happy and aren’t taken care of, nothing is going right in the classroom.”

My first teaching experience was when I was in college, at a rural boarding school for untouchables in Southern India called Shanti Bhavan. It was the first tangible proof to me that education really changes lives. What I learned was that the teacher is the change agent.

“It’s funny because people think, “ok, Khan Academy has a school? Do they just sit on the computer all day?”

Innovation for Khan Lab School is not about discovering something new because almost all the processes have been done before. They just haven’t put things together the way we have. It is about the creation of time to actually learn for the children.


“Learning to respect your classmates in that way completely changes the culture in the school and in the educational system.”

The focus is around building “student agency” and the part about education that is so exciting today. Our students turn to their peers when they have questions, and they start to respect their peers for their relative strengths and weaknesses.

“Student agency is something that is just as important in Silicon Valley as in East Africa and other parts of the world today.”

It’s the one thing that is going to ensure that students can fend for themselves and get what they need. In school, you learn that there’s a different way, and it can have a big impact on us in America.

“Technology is not the End All but the enabler for the classroom, teacher, and child.”

Bottom Line: It is not all about technology, it is about the people!

Join Orly Friedman and Asante Africa Foundation at Textures of Transformation at 711 Highland Ave, Oakland, CA 94611. 

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