YouTube is the New Substitute Teacher

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Image Credit: NASA/Goddard

School, like most of everyday life, is at times boring and occasionally a waste of time. We can place blame for that squarely upon the education system and teachers, or share it with parents if we’d like to keep diplomacy in the PTA. But although it’s true that the adults who shape and deliver education as we know it are largely responsible for what we learn and how well we learn it while we are children, we have nobody but ourselves to blame for allowing ignorance to persist after we grow up.

No matter how dreadful your education experience was as a child, if you reached adulthood literate enough to use the internet, then you should find developing a passing acquaintance with basic science concepts both convenient and entertaining. The idea that learning should be fun and easy is so compelling that YouTube is positively swarming with video bloggers enthusiastically sharing knowledge.

Because I am a science enthusiast and a lifetime devotee of independent study, I’ve compiled a video playlist of some of my recent favorites in that genre. To eliminate some common misconceptions, the playlist opens with the definition of science. From there, it builds from some interesting basics about water and carbon, covers some of the science frequently botched by Hollywood and in other fiction, and demonstrates that girls plus math equals win. Then follows a musical interlude, but it’s all science, so it’s all good. The last few are a sampler of videos posted by universities and science publishers for viewers who prefer productions with bigger budgets.

Now all you have to do is watch and learn.


(This post originally appeared at the Science in My Fiction blog.)

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4 thoughts on “YouTube is the New Substitute Teacher

  1. Kay! Do you have one on suns & how they ignite? (I’m being *so* unsciencey — but basically how a sun turns into a sun, that sort of thing?

    Cooper was talking about stars the other night & it became clear she thought they were about the size of moons and powered by (I don’t know) batteries or something. (Ah, yes, science education in Arkansas.) I said we were studying astronomy next & she said it was too boring. (ARGH!)

    Anyway, a link that disabused her of the boringness of astronomy & also showed her how stars worked would be just excellent, if you happened to have such a thing on hand.



  2. “We can place blame for that squarely upon the education system and teachers, or share it with parents if we’d like to keep diplomacy in the PTA.”

    I agree with your hook entirely, but as a teacher, take strong exception to lumping ALL teachers under the mantle of blame. It might have been more accurate, and would certainly have been kinder, to add a specific adjective to modify said teachers… for example, SOME teachers, BURNED OUT teachers, OCCASIONAL SOCIOPATHIC teachers.

    And sharing the blame with parents has nothing to do with diplomacy; it’s honesty. Some children flounder and gasp in the educational quagmire due to the educational system (I offer no defense of THAT) or to teachers whose joy in teaching, if it ever existed, was quashed by decades of paper-pushing and raising other people’s children.

    Others wind up harmed irrevocably by parents who choose to be absent in their children’s lives in favor of work or divorce or personal interests, who over-, under-, or sporadically medicate conditions that do or don’t exist (I’ve seen them all), or who are raised to believe that behavioral rules and homework are for lesser beings, that the only reason they don’t walk on water is that they haven’t felt sufficiently motivated to do so, and that teachers are their equals, despite obvious disparity in the age and education.

    I wouldn’t dream of EVER lumping all parents under the same umbrella, as a great many do their jobs very well; it rather hurts that fellow writers routinely forget that the same applies to teachers, even when they do so in small, humorous, and possibly unintentional ways.

    That being said, I shared this with my principal and the two science teachers on my team, who I think will enjoy your playlist as much as I did. 🙂

    1. I’m sorry. I was once a kindergarten teacher and I know that what you say is true. I wasn’t trying to come across as teacher-bashing, but in hindsight I can see that I did. I hope you and your colleagues will forgive me.

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