“Mr. Green, is this going to be on the test?”
“Yeah, about the test. The test will measure whether you are an informed, engaged, and productive citizen of the world. And it will take place in schools and bars and hospitals and dorm rooms and places of worship. You will be tested on first dates, in job interviews, while watching football and while scrolling through your Twitter feed. The test will judge your ability to think about things other than celebrity marriages, whether you will be easily persuaded by empty political rhetoric, and whether you will be able to place your life and your community in a broader context. The test will last your entire life and it will be comprised of the millions of decisions that when taken together make your life yours and everything, EVERYTHING will be on it.
I know, right? So pay attention!”
I’m writing this almost immediately after finishing the final episode, and I am extremely sad that it’s over. I have spent the past month or so watching an episode of Crash Course while eating my lunch at work. It has been a beautiful and entertaining respite from my day, which largely consists of people asking me dumb questions.
However, I came home today and was torn between the desire to spend my Friday night lying on the couch watching Netflix and zoning out, and the guilt trip to actually do something productive. Then it occurred to me: I can watch Crash Course on my PlayStation! I did this by logging in to Khan Academy on the system’s web browser. Then I full-screened the embedded video on the web page. This resulted in me binge watching the final 11 episodes of Crash Course.
But all of this culminates in me saying that John Green is a hero to online education. Seriously, have a look at his TED Talk if you’re not sure that you want to take this course. Even watch it if you’re not sure you want to learn online in general. His passion for encouraging people to educate themselves is what ultimately led to the creation of Crash Course World History. That passion shows through in every single episode.
What It Comes Down To
Each video takes a chunk of history and examines it in a way that is funny and engaging. It is usually a chunk of history typically misrepresented by normal history classes. It is also meant to stimulate the viewer to go and do their own research into topics that interest them. The full course consists of 41 videos at around 10 minutes a pop, though I could easily have been spellbound by 500. John Green makes a concerted effort to cover the massive span of human history in a non-Eurocentric manner (and he makes a big point of this) in what little time he has, and he strives to inspire his audience to think unconventionally about the past, present, and future.
If you have ever thought history to be a boring topic, I challenge you to watch ONE episode of this series. I absolutely loved it, and I hope you do as well.