We asked the team at Khan Academy to look back over the last 12 months and ask themselves, “What did I love in 2023? What do I recommend?” One of our values at Khan Academy is to embrace a growth mindset, and that shined through in all of the team’s responses. You won’t want to miss our new habits, best advice, best ideas, best things we read or watched, and more.
Best books and movies we encountered in 2023
The Dream Machine book by Waldrop Mitchell
This is an amazing book about the history of how the personal computer was dreamed up and came to be. It focuses on the story of the many teams that worked on different ideas across the country and came together at various points to debate, learn, and collaborate.
Vicki Zubovic, Khan Acaedmy’s Chief External Affairs Officer
Dune the movie
Dune is one of the greatest science fiction books of all time. Over the years, there have been many attempts to make it into a movie. I watched the most recent Dune adaptation (released in 2021) and it’s awesome. It captures the book perfectly. It was the best movie I watched in 2023.
Sal Khan, Khan Academy’s Founder and CEO
The Worlds I See book by Fei-Fei Li
This book does an amazing job weaving together Dr. Li’s story as an immigrant and her major work in the research and development of AI. Along with so many others in the education space, we at Khan Academy have seen how huge advances in AI over the past year have impacted student learning. This book is a very accessible look at how some of this technology was developed.
Kristen DiCerbo, Khan Academy’s Chief Learning Officer
Guns of August book by Barbara W. Tuchman
History repeats itself. As I read this Pulitzer-winning book published 60 years ago about a war that was fought 100+ years ago, I couldn’t help but see the parallels to today. Tuchman skillfully shows how human ego, indecisiveness, and divisions result in a tragedy of epic proportions. She focuses on events that unfold over just a few months and lead to a global conflict that lasted more than four years and took more than 20 million lives.
Bodgan Yamkovenko, Khan Academy’s Head of Efficacy and Research Team
You are a Badass book by Jen Sincero
This book gave me the self-confidence to follow my goals and to try new things without the fear of what others think. This connects to almost anything. With the world changing because of AI, we should always be open to trying new things, even if it doesn’t give us the results we want.
Katie Roberts, Khan Academy’s Marketing Campaign Specialist
Best learning hacks we discovered in 2023
When learning Spanish, here’s what to watch / read / listen to so you’re at your learning edge.
One piece of advice language learners always receive is to watch movies in the language they are learning. This is smart advice, but as a novice learner, I found it frustrating when I was watching Spanish-language movies and could only pick out one or two words. This past year, I discovered some amazing books, shows, and podcasts for Spanish language learners at different levels. This will help you be at your learning edge—not so hard that you get frustrated and quit, but not so easy that you get bored.
- Beginners: Read Short Stories in Spanish by Olly Richards. Watch Spanish Playground’s beginner episodes for free on YouTube. Listen to Duolingo’s Spanish podcast.
- Intermediate: Read El Principito by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. Watch Buena Gente (Four seasons for free on YouTube). Listen to the Españolistos podcast.
- Intermediate to advanced: Read Cajas de Cartón by Francisco Jiménez. Watch Netflix series Go! (two seasons) and Cielo Grande (two seasons). Listen to CNN’s 5 Cosas.
Stephanie Yamkovenko, Khan Academy’s Head of Digital Marketing Team
Start playing an instrument, get involved in music, and play with others!
I had been learning to play bass guitar for a while and in April decided to start a band with a friend of mine. We were able to find others who were also looking to be in a band. After eight months of practicing, we just played our first show at a local music venue, and it was amazing! Learning a musical instrument or listening to music has so many benefits for your brain and your ability to learn. It’s also a great way to practice a growth mindset. In a band, you really learn how to work with others and practice your communication skills.
Lizzie R., Khan Academy’s Senior Manager of Community Giving
Join a book club!
Not only is it important to stay skilled in consuming long-form content, but being a part of a book club is also a great way to share the experience with friends and colleagues and expand your understanding and appreciation of deeply developed ideas. Reading comprehension exposes layers of complexity and beauty and helps discern evidence from misdirection. Plus, it’s, like, really good for your vocabulary and stuff. Of course, the social aspect of being in a book club allows you to develop and clarify your own thoughts as well as others’ ideas.
Luke Smith, Khan Academy’s Engineering Manager, Learner Experience
Best advice we received in 2023
Read a book from a new and unfamiliar genre.
I read Stephen King’s books in 2023 for the first time, and it added so much fun and joy to my reading life! It’s harmless to try out new books, explore new ideas, and spend five minutes listening to something about a new topic. And the reward is huge!
Aviv Weiss, Khan Academy’s Senior Product Marketing Manager, Educators
Start the day with a bit of movement.
Self-care starts the day on the right track. Creating a habit of stretching, exercising, or walking each morning gives me energy that not only helps get me through the day, but also wakes up my brain and lets me sleep better at night.
Erica Coffey, Khan Academy’s Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging
Trust your instincts and find simplicity as a new parent.
I became a parent this year and definitely received a lot of advice. Some of it is helpful, but often it’s confusing or contradictory. I listened to and Googled just about everything, but I quickly realized what works for someone else may not work for me. Ultimately, the advice that was the most helpful to me this year was simple: trust your instincts, listen to your body, get fresh air, and find an easy-to-make favorite dish.
Rachel Tilley, Khan Academy’s Content Marketing Manager
Best quotes we encountered in 2023
“People do not rise to the level of their goals, people fall to the level of their systems.” James Clear, author of Atomic Habits
As an Industrial & Systems Engineer who now works in Human Resources, I see the impact of the lack of systems needed to facilitate successful goal attainment. Many public school districts in the US have poor systems that do not enable equitable and efficacious learning & education. As an organization with a mission to provide a free world-class education to anyone, anywhere, I’m glad to see that we’re investing in our internal systems so that we can continue progress towards our big audacious goal. I’m encouraged by the adoption of Khanmigo by several school districts who plan to use this tool to enhance their systems.
Regina Ross, Khan Academy’s Chief People Officer
“Some believe it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. It is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love.” -Gandalf, in The Hobbit
A classic quote but one that I believe applies now more than ever in a world impacted by climate change, growing polarization, and corporate manipulation. Education needs to change to meet the needs of real students living in the real world. A huge part of that education should involve teaching students that their voices matter and that they can work toward a better world, as well as teaching them the skills necessary to make change.
Heather M., Khan Academy’s Senior Humanities Content Creator
“Beauty isn’t all about just nice loveliness. Beauty is about more rounded, substantial becoming. So I think beauty in that sense is about an emerging fullness, a deeper sense of depth, and also a kind of homecoming for the enriched memory of your unfolding life.” -John O’Donohue, Irish philosopher
I heard this quote in an interview on the podcast On Being with Krista Tippett. The idea that I can enrich my future memories by learning to recognize the beauty of the present stuck with me. In the same way, the more we deepen what we LEARN, the more we enrich our future memories with depth and possibility. What a thought!
Hailey Dickson, Khan Academy’s Student Marketing Manager