Can videos make you teacher of the year? Paul Andersen’s Montana science videos

There’s a great story here — maybe more than one.

For “Origin of Species Day,” November 24, the anniversary of the 1859 publication of Charles Darwin’s most famous book, Paul Andersen sent out this Tweet:

Who is Paul Andersen?  He’s Montana’s Teacher of the Year (for what year, I don’t know).  He teaches science in Bozeman, at Bozeman High.

Plus, he’s produced 224 videos, most of them on science issues.  They’re short, they’re informative, and they work.  Salman Khan, not yet — but here’s one more piece of the great big puzzle, how do we marry education and technology.

Where does he offer continuing education for teachers on how to produce videos?  Why isn’t Texas paying big money to him to get him to do that, to teach Texans how to use YouTube to teach?

Andersen’s on the right path, and he’s running hard.  Teachers, are you paying attention?

(By the way, I’d quibble a bit on his history — I think Darwin did a fair deal of experimentation on evolution, breeding pigeons for a decade, among other things.  But Andersen’s use of stickleback evolution is very good; the little fishies have been observed to speciate in the wild, and then to duplicate that speciation in captivity, thereby confirming what was observed out in the lakes.  Thank you sticklebacks!)

Very quickly this gets into serious territory.

Look, I’m an out of the loop teacher in Dallas, Texas — and for all its money and size and importance, Texas is mostly a cultural and educational backwater.   It’s not that there aren’t great people in education here, or no great resources — we are shackled to an ancient political system that puts more value on fealty to not-quite-superordinate ideas than on cutting edge education, or mass educational attainment.  There is a powerful anti-intellectual stream in Texas politics that believes a hobbled education system will not threaten the political, social or cultural order.  Too many Texans take great solace in that, covertly or overtly.

As a nation, we are engaged in a series of great education experiments, using our children as testing subjects, as guinea pigs.  How does video fit into making education work better?

Here we’ve got Paul Andersen and his science videos.

Despite my grousing about his not being in Texas, he is active in national circles where the serious questions get asked about how to use video, and other technologies.

A YouTube Education Summit on October 18 and 19 got Andersen out of Montana, where Andersen ran into C. G. P. Grey, another guy who uses video.

Grey responded with this ode to a “digital Aristotle“:

Links and other information Grey offered:

Some thoughts on teachers, students and the Future of Education.
The book kid me is holding in the video is The Way Things Work. If there’s a bookish child in your life, you should get them a copy:

Also I don’t think that the idea of Digital Aristotle is sci-fi, but if you *do* want to read the sci-fi version, I highly recommend The Diamond Age:

Thanks to YouTube EDU for bringing me out:

And Angela for arranging the whole show:

And Jessica for her amazing note artwork:

Full credits and more info at:…

CGPGrey T-Shirts available from DFTBA:




Andersen replied, questioning how well a digital Aristotle can work, since it takes Aristotle out of the equation:

Links Andersen promised:

Paul Andersen reflects on Digital Aristotle, his trip to the YouTube Edu summit, and the future of education

Digital Aristotle: Thoughts on the Future of Education:

60 Minutes episode on Sal Khan:

Classroom Game Design at TEDxBozeman:

Blended Learning Cycle:

Game on, ladies and gentlemen.  Which one is closer to being right? 

There you go, from evolution, to evolution of teaching and education.  What’s the selection tool for quality education?  Which species of learning will survive to reproduce?

Your thoughts in comments, please.


6 Responses to Can videos make you teacher of the year? Paul Andersen’s Montana science videos

  1. […] video from super teacher CGPGrey, right up our Texas alley, on the issue of Texas […]


  2. Ed Darrell says:

    People raise their children.

    Did anyone say anything to the contrary? Who? Where?


  3. Ed Darrell says:

    Mr. Hogwash (did you really choose that handle, or did God smite you with it?),

    Did you watch any of the videos? Would you say you tend to agree more with Mr. Anderson, or Mr. Grey? Can you tell? Would you do us the courtesy of telling us?

    [Dear Reader: A clue that the rant has seized its ranter is victim, often, is when the rant eventually goes full circle, to condemn the position the ranter originally took. “Left wing education bureaucrats?” Hogwash started out with a full-circle loop.

    Quickest slide into crazy-old-man irrelevancy I’ve seen in a while. Close to the world land speed record.]


  4. JamesK says:

    Hogwash, let me know when you’re going to stop being a stupid git.

    You’ll be far more interesting and far more intelligent then.


  5. hogwash says:

    And not, societies future does most definitely not depend on how we raise “scientists”, doctors and programmers”. “The future” does not even depend on Scientists, doctors and programmers per se. You must be watching to much Star Trek or something (or reading too much Mao). What a weird and narrow view of “society” and the “future”. It is particularly comic that you think it depends on “programmers”. What silliness. This is like saying the 20th century depending on how we “raised” Morse code operators in the late19th century. On the fuzzy headed lower members of the Democrat demimonde of the false elite of Democrat nomenklatura can think of something so loony. As for “doctors”, when Obamacare get really embedded the medical profession will be taken down to the level of a CPA (or a “programmer” for that matter.

    But more to the point, we do not “raise” scientist, doctors and programmers. What communist blather. People raise their children. teachers, particularly K-12 are supposed to teach them to read and write and count.

    This sort of cant is straight out of the playbook of Mao or Stalin. IT is scientific socialism.

    How “we” will “raise” Scientist, Doctors Programmers indeed. These people are not resources of the state or of “the community”. When they seek their training they are adult, individual free agents seeking training in an marketplace.

    This little Maoist should not be allowed near the young without adult supervision, but then again, neither should you.


  6. hogwash says:

    Maybe being the “best teacher” would make you the best teacher of the year, oh, and “best teacher” would mean that one’s pupils excelled in life, not in the loony little bubble of Left wing education bureaucrats.

    Of course, if we did that most public school teachers and bureaucrats would be exposed for the frauds an parasites that they are. That would require that they teach the childern real skill and help them learn thier actual limitations in the real world. IT would mean teaching them the truth–something that escapes our modern Democrat.

    (oh, and that is a wholly unscientific “riff” to elide mirco and macro evolution so glibly and misleadingly, and those “many” or “most” scientist that would say so have wholly departed from real sciene or even basic critical thinking.. They are are most profoundly the not the same thing. But them he is a high school teacher posing as a scientist and not a real scientist. Much the same could be said about our “scientists” in our universities and their so-called “research”.

    Neither group does the young much good here for they mislead the young about what science actually is, and confuse Science with Scientism.?
    But that is really what you are all about, isn’t it.


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