Not thinking of YouTube

We’re studying some 20th-Century mathematics in Precalculus class these days. This situation is unusual in high-school math, where most of what we study goes back at least 300 years, not to mention 2300 in the case of most of our geometry. In order to give some historical context, to show why some revolutionary ideas appeared at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries, I gave a mini-lecture on the intellectual ferment at the time in other disciplines, including sciences (Darwin, Einstein, etc.) and arts (Monet, Stravinsky, etc.). When I described the riot that developed on the Paris premiere of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, the class naturally wanted to hear an excerpt. That’s fair enough, and of course I should have prepared one, but the interesting point is what happened when I said that I didn’t have one with me. “You can find it on YouTube,” said several students at once.

“Why didn’t I think of that?” was my reply. Of course they didn’t really know that it was on YouTube, but they correctly concluded that it must be. I’ve been using the Internet since before it was the Internet (since 1978, in fact), and I’m both comfortable with it and knowledgeable about it, but why didn’t it occur to me to check YouTube? The quick answer is that it has only been possible in the last couple of the 31 years of my Internet use, but still…

Teachers and parents, of course, know that when they have a technology question they should ask their kids. But I’m supposed to be the expert. So it bothers me that I didn’t think of YouTube. I learned last year that we can find math lessons there, after all. (More on that in a later post.)

Categories: Teaching & Learning, Technology