Sometimes people will leave comments on my videos saying things like "I learn so much more from you than I do in school."

For any given three minute period, I imagine that that may be correct. But overall, it's either untrue, or yr doin it wrong. Let's be clear here, John and I get to pick and choose the most fascinating things out there: What it means when a guy has a rod shoot through his brain, how giraffe sex is terrifying, the very beginning of subjects (which are all totally interesting at first, but then just get more boring and complicated the deeper you go.)

We are providing information, trivia, almost. And trivia is called trivia because it is trivial. It's nice to have it in your brain, but it isn't "education."

Education happens when a series of pieces of information enters your brain giving you a complete (or at least, more complete) understanding of a topic. Whether that topic is the function of mitochondria, or the linguistic structure of sentences. And getting a full understanding of those things doesn't happen in three minutes, and it's extremely difficult to make entertaining. So, when you say "Hank, you should be my teacher" I'm not sure if that's true.

I've never taken on the kinds of challenges that your teachers take on every day. I've never tried to make something truly boring interesting. I've never tried to create a full picture of some complicated yet important bit of the world in other people's brains.

But I want to try. So I think, in the next week or so, both John and I are going to attempt to cover some topics that would normally be taught in either high school or early college. These are going to be done in not just one, but several videos, because you simply can't do it in one video.

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Comment by Esmé :) on December 21, 2010 at 5:33am

I learn more about things that actually interest me in your videos, which is why it feels like I learn more. At my school I've learnt what fricatives and plosives are, why volcanoes happen, how to do column addition,  but through your videos I've learnt about interesting :s things like girrafe sex (why is that interesting?!) and why humans act as they do. To me, they are more important, but to empoyers, teachers, examiners etc they don't matter at all. From your videos, I learn the stuff I'm interested in learning, and I learn 'why' instead of 'that'. :)



Comment by Martin Stedman on November 29, 2010 at 2:53pm
My favorite motto is, "I dont teach physics, I teach thinking skills."
Comment by Tova C.E on October 29, 2010 at 5:59am
Even if I do learn a lot from their videos, I definitely don't learn more from Hank and John than from my teachers. I'd have to stop listening completely in class for that to happen. Even the worst teachers at my school teach me something every day. Some little thing.
Maybe there's a big difference between Sweden and USA when it comes to education, but I truly believe that if you just listen to your teachers and make use of what they're giving you, you'll get more out of that than watching 3 minute long summaries - however informative - on Youtube.

Though, I wouldn't mind having John and Hank for teachers. I think, with a little practice, they'd be damn good ones.
Comment by Nick Greyden on October 26, 2010 at 1:34am
I think what you are experiencing Hank, and John as well, is the continual downfall of the US educational system. I was extremely lucky to have several teachers that thought it was better to teach the subject than teach a test. I also was lucky enough to graduate high school before "No child left behind". You have to remember that this community is ... well... Nerdfighters. They enjoy learning. They want and need the meat of education that is left on the bone via our current educational systems.

A good example would be critical reading that John has discussed. I had an awesome science teacher in High School whom I will be sending this link. He took the time to explain the hows and whys. My math teacher took the time to explain the information she was giving to us and how to apply it to every day things. As far as English, I was given facts. I was told what a metaphor was and could spot one when asked to. However I was never taught how or why to read critically, only that books held symbolism.

I was robbed of this education in school for whatever the reason. I was blessed with a (what I feel was) complete science and math education. I feel some of the reason the geeks and nerds who watch your videos learn more in 4 minutes than they do all day in school, is they aren't hearing what they have heard for the 4th year in a row. They are given a path of thought to follow, explore, and find the wealth of knowledge which lay at the end before continuing onward.

You are also teaching on a college level to many who are in their teens. You are not teaching a test. You are not teaching down to people. You are willing to disagree with others and welcome those that can and will do the same in a respectful manner. You are perfectly willing to say "I don't know". You present information, trivial or not, in a way that is entertaining, though it isn't the entertainment that many find so wonderful, it is the valued exchange of information. I love to hear the summarized information about Pakistan and how it relates to my world. It would be wonderful to hear, with or without peanut butter face.

You two are privileged beyond measure. You are able to connect with, talk two, and influence the great thinkers and doers of generations. Public schools have everything regulated now and they are watched over like a newborn with the flu. They are rewarded for passing students who should have failed. The entire thing has almost become a complete joke. You are not constrained so. There are no tests, just an audience that craves knowledge. There is no government forcing legislation on you, just those that thirst for information. There is no SAT/ACT, just those that are seeking a path to understanding. This is your upperhand.

I'm excited to see what happens with this experiment.


P.S. This is by no means a slight against the teaching community. Some are good, some are bad. The system is horrible. What teachers are forced to do in the name of education is a crime against youth.
Comment by Alex D on October 24, 2010 at 9:47pm
Maybe it's true that you guys don't teach in the typical in-depth classroom sense of the word, but I still genuinely feel like I grow as a person and my mind expands when I watch your videos. School is supposed to teach you how to understand the world better and how to live in it as a "helpful citizen". And the inspiration and "trivia" I gain from your videos really accomplishes that. You guys have taught me how to look at the world more critically, to care more about the environment and social justice. Ive learned how beautiful the world is from you guys, and also how awful it is.
Anyway I can talk about this for hours, but the point is you're being modest/too technical. I HAVE learned so much from you two, a lot more than most of my teachers have taught me. :)

But I'm excited for your teaching videos this week :)
Comment by Srikanth Krishnan on October 24, 2010 at 6:56pm
while that may be true, where modern education fails is in teaching us how to think for ourselves. education is soo technical. the videos help us with a bit of perspective
Comment by Travis D. on October 23, 2010 at 5:26pm
As a college senior who wants to be a teacher someday, I'm incredibly interested to see how this will work out. I often claim that I learn more from a vlogbrothers video than I do from my schoolwork, but it's for the completely opposite reason.

In one of my classes this semester, our homework consists of a bunch of questions that are trivial in nature -- e.g., "Freeways are obsolescent; the future is in tollroads. Which American state has the greatest mileage of them?" (Florida, for the curious.) These type of questions are cool when I want to learn trivia, but not cool when I'm trying to understand the broader concepts of cultural geography.

However, when I watch your videos, I don't feel bombarded by trivia. Sure, there are trivial facts in your "educational" videos, but only a couple. And then you expand on them and explain why they're important, which is what I think my teacher needs to do. So, in short, what I'm trying to say is that you do a better job than at least one college professor at making trivia interesting.

tl;dr: Go for it -- you can't do worse than the pros!
Comment by Odd on October 23, 2010 at 9:49am
Thank you Hank! Being a teacher is hard. It's a constant job that doesn't end when the students go home. Some of the difficulty is the amount of different learning styles you have to try to teach to and a wide range of levels in each class. You have to teach quick enough for the faster learner in the class. Then you also have to teach the same thing in multiple ways to try to find a way for another student who is just not getting the concept to learn the concept. Things get harder with all the testing you need now and the standardization of teaching. You can't linger too long on one subject because you have so much to go through so that students will know what they need to for the tests. You no longer have time to personalize subjects to bring in things that matter to the students. You have a strict plan to follow. A lot of schools in my state want you to follow the curriculum set out in the book and not deviate. The problem is that not all students learn the way that the book teaches. It leaves less room for a relationship with your class which makes it hard to motivate all of your students. I could go on and on about the difficulties right now with education but I think I'd bore everyone.
Comment by Crystal "Stray" Wilson on October 23, 2010 at 9:46am
While I am aware that there is a broad line between education and the information you present us with, there is some truth to saying they learn from you. The way vlogbrothers videos are presented is usually entertaining to us, and as a result, we hold on to the bits of information you give us fairly well because they were interesting at the time. What we learn in school, although more complete, is often presented in a way so monotonous that we've forgotten by about a week later.

It's also fair to say that by introducing topics in the sometimes vague but usually interesting ways that you do, you heighten our interests in these topics to start with. So if and when our teachers bring it up to us, instead of the usual "This sounds annoying, LAAAME" reaction, it clicks as "Hank talk about this. Cool!"

And if we have a positive outlook going into the topic, we're more likely to stick to it and actually remember it later. So while you aren't really teaching us, you're probably making a contribution to some of our educations regardless.
Comment by Edi on October 22, 2010 at 9:34pm
As an educator, I appreciate this post very much. I think the informational-type songs and videos that you and John make are AWESOME and I LOVE that you do it, but it's definitely very different from the way teaching and learning happen in school. You make excellent points in this post and I'm looking forward to the upcoming videos that you mention. I have no doubt that they'll be outstanding as always.

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