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Twelve Mintue Chunks Of White Hot Knowledge!
February 6, 2013 9:55 AM   Subscribe

John And Hank Green (previously), amusing youtube teachers of world history and biology have finished the first cycle of their educational series Crash Course (previously) and have wrapped up mini lessons on Literature and Ecology. Now they've just started two brand new series on U.S History and Chemistry (to come). Outtakes.
posted by The Whelk (19 comments total) 36 users marked this as a favorite

 
I have never made it all the way through one of the vlog brothers' videos, but I still have a special place in my heart for two guys who are obviously a force for good. And even better, now!
posted by DU at 10:15 AM on February 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


John is a fantastic host, but there's something about Hank that gets under my skin - which is a shame because the content of his biology lectures was great. The world history lectures were really fantastic and I wish they were each 22 minutes and on the History Channel.

However, I have to say I'm disappointed in John's next subject; American history is probably the least interesting possible historical subject to me. This is probably due to growing up in the American public school system and learning nothing but American history. My mind years for something new!
posted by gregoryg at 10:47 AM on February 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Definite case of shortattentionspanitis, but that's how things pretty much have to be now. Substance-wise I'm impressed with what I've seen so far.

I did notice well-honed tactics to head off the sort of nitpicking which tends to drive out substantive discussion; the most obvious being that after speaking a term with a disputable pronunciation he adds, "yes, I mispronounce things, get over it" or words to that effect. It must be a drag trying to communicate to a self-selecting crowd that includes bored, uninvested people. I think they call it "The Internet".
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:49 AM on February 6, 2013


This is probably due to growing up in the American public school system and learning nothing but American history. My mind years for something new!

If they do it Lies My Teacher Told Me style, it could get real interesting real fast. In fact, I think a tiny fragment of that stuff has been incorporated into curricula now, so if you are over 40 you should probably learn American History again. I know we were never told that 90-95% of the Native American population died from disease when Columbus got here. We were just told it was sparsely settled, with the implication being that nobody was using it, so go ahead.
posted by DU at 10:58 AM on February 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


DU is right. US Historiography has come a LONG way in a short time. A lot of really revolutionary history started in the 1960s, but it didn't start shaking through the national high school curriculum until the 1980s or so. Anyone who is assuming US history is the Jingoist Pep Club really should check out more recent texts and syllabi.
posted by absalom at 11:22 AM on February 6, 2013


The problem with going Lies My Teacher Told Me style is that, while pointing out hard facts elided over in history class, you can always bungle too far into "edgy for the sake of edgy" territory.

Case in point: LMTTM's assertation that Native Americans landed in Europe in 60 BC, which *SPOILER* is not even remotely true.
posted by Panjandrum at 11:24 AM on February 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


In other news, I spent the last week in a huge funk because of how great CC:US is!

I've spent the last year collecting AV stuff, Chroma Key stuff, and editing software with the hope and dream of converting my AP US curriculum into a series of little webisodes starting this summer. But I can't compete with John Green! Not with a day job and without a staff!

I mean, the fact that he's just so obviously a warm and thoughtful guy who really cares about adolescents takes some of the edge off, but it is still kind of a crushing blow to my already fragile ego.
posted by absalom at 11:26 AM on February 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I have never made it all the way through one of the vlog brothers' videos, but I still have a special place in my heart for two guys who are obviously a force for good. And even better, now!

Same here. God love 'em for what they do and all, and especially how they inspire/interact with their fanbase, but holy cow all of their fans seem to think that their own vlogging is IMPORTANT in all caps, fancy fonts, italics, and unicorn tears.
posted by Kitteh at 11:27 AM on February 6, 2013


The problem with going Lies My Teacher Told Me style is that, while pointing out hard facts elided over in history class, you can always bungle too far into "edgy for the sake of edgy" territory.

We shouldn't correct errors because we might overcorrect? This is an interesting approach to both science and education. I would subscribe to your newsletter, but what if I accidentally subscribed my whole block?
posted by DU at 12:07 PM on February 6, 2013


I love John Green's video lessons. I really need to get caught up on what he's put out in the last few months.
posted by tdismukes at 12:27 PM on February 6, 2013


LMTTM's assertation that Native Americans landed in Europe in 60 BC, which *SPOILER* is not even remotely true.

I think there was a lapse of editing there. It was a section dealing with the historiography of the "discovery of America"; it went into lots of various claims, including some hare-brained ones, and the evidence for them (ranging from very strong to very weak), and the motivations of national pride and other things that have gone into the discussion. And, yes, one paragraph concludes:
Native Americans also crossed the Atlantic: anthropologists conjecture that Native Americans voyaged east millennia ago from Canada to Scandinavia or Scotland. Two American Indians shipwrecked in Holland around 60 BC became major curiosities in Europe.
My suspicion is that "conjecture" was intended to have greater scope than made it onto the page.
posted by Zed at 1:16 PM on February 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


and is there any way to buy or legitimately bulk download the Crash Courses, or are they Youtube-only?
posted by Zed at 1:35 PM on February 6, 2013


I've spent the last few days moving and listening to Dan Carlin's Hardcore History podcast on "The Death Throes of the Roman Republic." He is fantastic, and very much more in-depth if that's what you're looking for.

(which is not to shit on what these guys are doing. I love quick overviews.)
posted by Navelgazer at 11:16 PM on February 6, 2013


A dozen chunks of mintue?
posted by pracowity at 3:37 AM on February 7, 2013


> We shouldn't correct errors because we might overcorrect?

There's nothing wrong with correcting errors, but if you're going to the a critical debunker, you should expect to be held to a higher standard. Much of what's in LMTTM was and is a needed critique of the US school system's practice in regards to history. And pointing out the implicit racism and nationalism in school books is commendable. But devoting several pages to bogus tales and bad archaeology like African Olmecs, claims about the Piri Reis map, and Out-of-Place Roman/Cathaginian artifacts to prop up your flogging of a strawman public school teacher later, is neither needed nor commendable. You don't solve mistakes by making bigger ones.
posted by Panjandrum at 7:21 AM on February 7, 2013


But devoting several pages to bogus tales and bad archaeology like African Olmecs, claims about the Piri Reis map, and Out-of-Place Roman/Cathaginian artifacts to prop up your flogging of a strawman public school teacher later

That's not what he did. It was early in the book and he was using the tales, tall and otherwise, of the "discovery of America" to make points about the challenges of telling history. It's easy to say that "America was discovered in 1492 by Columbus" is wrong; it's harder to say what's right.

He was encouraging critical thinking, doing the very opposite of the uncritical acceptance of fringe beliefs you're trying to characterize him as doing.
posted by Zed at 10:12 AM on February 7, 2013


Loewen was doing the opposite of encouraging critical thinking in those passages. Using tall tales with no real factual basis to cast doubt on the accepted narrative is not challenging the mainstream narrative, it is promoting a fanciful alternative even less grounded in fact.

When Loewen uses the example of van Sertima's assertions that the Early Formative colossal head represent African peoples, then dismisses criticism of that assertion as an ethnocentric bias, he is not overturning the lies and speculation about Columbus that he so rightly later notes in the same chapter. Instead, he is merely promoting a fringe hypothesis with no real evidence for the sake of bolstering his thesis of bias in US textbooks. Yet, by promoting these sort of nonsensical theories about pre-Columbian contact, he is undermining the demonstrable accomplishments of indigenous American groups.

I can't speak for other factual errors in the book, but I do know a non-significant amount about the Americas prior to Columbus. When I read LMTTM not long after it came out, I thought it was great. Recently re-reading though, and seeing how poorly he managed that period of human existence, makes me doubt the many other assertions throughout the book, footnoted or not.
posted by Panjandrum at 8:10 PM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ummm... yeah, sorry. I was going by memory and only looked up enough to quote the bit about the Native Americans in Holland story. What I remembered is that he mentioned a bunch of fringe things briefly, and more or less dismissed them for having a low level of evidence. Last night I looked at it again, and, yeah, he is overly enthusiastic about van Sertima's Afro-Phoenicians visited Olmecs thing, which he describes as having a moderate level of evidence.
posted by Zed at 9:40 AM on February 8, 2013


No worries, that was a re-read catch for me too.
posted by Panjandrum at 3:12 PM on February 8, 2013


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