Sunday, December 28, 2014

John Green on Public Education

If you teach high school, you are probably familiar with John Green, Author of Various Novellic Weepfests That Your Students Carry Around. He's the author of the highly popular Looking for Alaska and the even more popular The Fault in Our Stars. But John Green is also a high school teacher, and he and his brother are highly popular vloggers. Their Crash Course series on youtube presents just about everything (though mostly science and history-- their subject areas) in rapid-fire and engaging style.

In the midst of those videos, one finds John Green's "Open Letter to Students Returning to School," and it is worth four minutes of your life.

Green gives some simple perspective on public education's place in history, and he delivers a fine response to the eternal students complaint- "My teachers are stupid."

Yes, your teachers may be stupid. So are you. So am I. So is everyone, except Neil Degrasse Tyson. The whole pleasure of being a human being is in being stupid but learning to be less stupid together.

And then he goes on to make the big point-- school is not about you. Green addresses a point I believe is critical-- schools are for all of society. They are not, as modern charter operator marketing departments would have us believe, a service provided for parents and parents alone, but an important service provided for the entire nation, for all of society.

This video makes as good a case for public education as anyone could make in under four minutes. Perfect thing to watch before you head back to school in the new year.

Correction: I incorrectly called Green a high school teacher. That's what I get for writing before I eat my morning bagel. For my money, he's still a teacher, albeit through unconventional means. But not a public school teacher.


  1. I love this John Green video. In fact, I have a poster in my classroom with quotes on it from this very video. However, in my 10 years of watching Green's YouTube videos and reading his books, I have never come across the fact that he is a teacher. You might want to recheck that aspect of your research.

  2. You are correct. I made a mistake there.

  3. I have read somewhere that Bill Gates said on camera that he loves watching this guy while he works out, and it was from the random thought that all students should have the opportunity to watch the best of teachers like this guy--or actually this guy, on video--that he decided to get involved in education. I did not save the link to the video, however.

  4. I agree Peter, Green is definitely a teacher. The video's great.