I'm Dan and this is my blog. I'm a former high school math teacher and current head of teaching at Desmos. He / him. More here.


  1. My superintendent shoed one of these during his big district-wide speech. As if he wasn’t doing a good enough wasting my time already.

  2. How can we use these to enhance learning? Is our boredom going to stand in the way of inspiring others by sharing them? Can we take these ideas and do differently?

    In a year, I see these videos probably 20 times (same ones, over and over again). Why? Because we show them to thousands of teachers and leaders who have no idea they exist. Their response compels us to keep on showing them (if they fit the big idea of the day).

    We may be bored with it, but let’s not let our own proficiency with what’s published stand in the way.

  3. Dan,

    A couple of years ago we had a teacher who went on sabbatical and came back to address the BOE. He gushed with all the wonderful things he discovered on the internet.

    So the natural question is, what did he incorporate into his classroom teaching. The answer? Nothing. Oh, maybe stories about shiny widgets he visited but nothing that substitutes for reading a classic book.

    In large, seemingly progressive, parts of the country a single computer sits on a teacher’s desk to take attendance and read email.

    Students go to a lab to look up fairly pedestrian references to be put into mind-numbing traditional reports.

    Older faculty have but a few more years of recycling their Luddite lesson plans as if reading 1984 is cautionary instead of watching Denver and Minneapolis citizen’s homes on YouTube being invaded by machine-gun toting storm-troopers as the First Amendment in action.

    Many schools are little more than dysfunctional theaters of educational absurdity that practice and maintain the status quo of the nineteen fifties – a comfort zone too many educators can never let go of.

    You’re bored because you are smart, talented, and gifted – a public school anomaly. You represent America’s more critical achievement gap – technologically fit teachers vs those who never learn no matter how obvious the messages from people like you to them becomes.

  4. I’m not claiming to have any of this edutech down. I’m using “bored” euphemistically in a context (the internets) which doesn’t take kindly to euphemism so I apologize and I’ll clarify:

    These videos are exploitative (though Wesch’s at least angles at objectivity) and they infuriate me.

  5. I’m bored because I don’t seen much creativity and style. This message likely still has a place but unless someone is willing to tell this story in a new way, I”m not all that interested.

    To that end, we’ve got bloggers who tell the same story in every blog post as well. This one just reeks a bit too much of Wesch to have much credibility.

  6. Annoys particularly when they are dished out during keynotes. Saw the Wesch video three times during a single conference last October. Was not his fault of course.

  7. Whether teachers like it or not the culture is on a track called the technological singularity. The future will not ever look like the past again.

    The style of the videos can certainly look tedious and the content a bit contrived but today’s children are different animals from the classroom gerbils of just a decade or so ago.

    Teachers managed to sabotage the first few generations of technology in classrooms by sticking their fingers in their ears and yelling, “LA_LA_LA_LA”. Classroom computers became doorstops and the threat to classroom lectures was neutralized by introducing continuous factoid test prep. No time for those pesky computers in an oh-so-busy-learning memorization factory.

    We don’t need no stinking technology or learning here.

    But the doubling of humankind’s knowledge is now going exponential and the number of new factoids exceeds the number of seconds available in one person’s existence to sort them out.

    These videos are quaint. We live in a culture of technological wonder and we still have teachers who don’t get it as this thread makes clear. The nature of information and information processing has changed and it is never going back to whispering to Elsie the natural cow.

    Elsie is a genetic hybrid. The food Elsie and the teachers and the children eat is genetically modified. Children are now instrumented to communicate with a wireless super-conscious that eliminates the need to memorize facts or even perform arithmetic.

    The codecs of language have changed.

    This is not a statistic someone is celebrating. This is reality.

    Reality – the thing too many schools, administrators and legislators want to suspend. Stop the world they want to get off. They want to superimpose platitudes about the virtue of “not cheating”, “don’t talk”, “right answers”, learning freedom through absolute intolerant discipline, being creative by conforming, prepare for the future by gazing at the rear view mirror, and on and on.

    There is no time left for five year plans to study whether it is all worth it. It is ubiquitous in our culture. Teachers have to act decisively and with purpose and wake up. The world will trample you otherwise.

    Teachers standing in front of this tsunami of change look and sound like psychiatric patients who are off their meds.

    – krasicki

  8. I. Don't. Get. It

    September 1, 2008 - 6:36 pm -

    If this Wesch fellow is an Edupornographer, are you? How are your videos any different from his? I. don’t. get. it.
    Going back to the Wesch video,… well,… 25 years ago, I went home from school and played Atari 2600 and watched MTV (when MTV ONLY showed videos) and then turned on my Sony Walkman. So. 45 years ago, my Mom ran home from school and watched American Bandstand and then played a few 45’s. So what. Why are kids these days any more freakin’ special than I was in the early 80s? Or my Mom was in the early 1960’s? THEY AREN’T!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    I think about the whole George Carlin skit about people having “Kid Fetishes”.
    Rant mode off, however I still want to know why your videos are any worse than Wesch’s.

  9. @I.don’t.get.it

    The difference between then and now is that the medium is interactive, intelligent, and intellectually extends the human experience. The concept of gestalt human exercises is now operational.

    The difference between dan and the EPs is that dan is telling you how the others are selling you product.

  10. @Chris Craft: C’mon, now, Chris. “Beat down like a hungry dog?” I said I appreciated you stretching my thinking and gave you some additional thoughts but you disappeared. Come back and keep talking! How else am I going to learn if you’re not willing to return and beat it through my thick, Midwestern skull?!

    @Dan Meyer: Nicely done (as usual!). I saw in a previous comment that minor children supposedly are going to be heading your way now. Don’t worry, they won’t be able to get past the district filter as long as you keep using words like ‘edupornographers.’

    FYI, there’s a WHOLE BUNCH of people who have yet to see ‘Did You Know? (Shift Happens).’ I stopped showing it, thinking everyone had now intersected with it, but then I ask folks if they’ve seen it and I get these vacant stares… So I break down and show it and they’re all giddy, eager to rush home and show it to someone else. This includes my department chair, to whom I’ve mentioned it and sent the URL multiple times, and several faculty in my department, who didn’t realize it was on the ‘Did You Know?’-labeled CD I gave them seven months ago (um, yeah, so much for my ‘change agent’ powers in academia). Yikes.

  11. It is getting crazy with all the copycat video styles. I like the original as well, but mostly because it was in fact…uhh, original.

    I agree with Mike Sansone and Scott above in that we can’t completely lose the message of re-looking at ways to engage our kids.

    Question to Gina Marie’s point, what exactly are they getting from that Ancient History content that you “have” to get through?

    My worry is that by discounting and being bored with this and other technologies that others are just now getting to, we are attempting to maintain our “psuedo intellectuality“.

    To quote, David Brooks, “in order to cement your status in the cultural elite, you want to be already sick of everything no one else has even heard of.”

    We are still a small minority.

  12. Sorry, I’ve lost you guys. These videos don’t bore me. It isn’t that they are overplayed. I’m not saying, “I’ve got this stuff figured out, let’s move on.” These videos don’t bore me. They infuriate me.

    These videos use children inauthentically in order to promote an adult’s agenda. These adults are likely well-intentioned but the ends don’t justify marshaling children into an ideological debate between grown-ups.

    Look: if you can only compel your thesis by pushing a kid in front of a camera and telling her to act sad, either your thesis is simply false or you need to find another approach on it.

    Because children are stakeholders in their education and should be heard but children are used in these videos merely to detail an argument, to accessorize a thesis, and to titillate an audience, which makes these videos pornographic and worthy of my contempt.


    Did You Know gets a pass from me for making its case without exploiting kids. Wesch gets a pass because his kids are legal adults who (presumably) could’ve opted out without consequence and because Wesch attempts to tell their story authentically and objectively, using survey results.


    I already wrote about this.

  13. Dan,

    I have to say that I dislike the terminology you’re using. If you’re saying you think the children are being exploited to elicit sympathy for a cause they aren’t promoting that’s just a consumer complaint.

    When you used the EP tag I thought you were referring to James Joyce’s definition of pornography as the love of things.

    What makes these videos different from the old days is that in the old days Apple, M$, and all the pseudo education software vendors saturated schools with technology to capture home computer market share. Kids had Macs at school and nothing at home – you’re depriving your kid if you don’t buy a machine. Cutsey games were treated like educational epiphanies.

    But these days the kids have much more sophisticated stuff at home and bring it to school but the school doesn’t know how to deal with it.

    Meanwhile the thought police have passed baby Leroy laws that “protect” (e.g. inoculate) children from ever having to interface with the world while they are at school.

    These days a kid might be exposed to just about anything, anywhere, but if it happens at school the sky falls. So it is rare to find a computer on a classroom desk and even more rare to find a teacher who can integrate the third party influence that brings.

    So I think what some of the responses are is a misreading of your intent. Many people seem to think that love of the machine is the EP and they’ll insist that a machine is no substitute for hugging a cat or doing homework – they are still thinking that the hardware is the object of desire.

    But what I think is subliminal in a few of the videos is a more subtle thing. These kids aren’t concerned about the hardware – that comes and goes. What they are saying in primitive speak (the part they may seem offensive and contrived) is that they think differently about thinking and memorization.

    The message might read more obviously put in another way.

    The videos should be saying,

    Why memorize information as long as I can find and retrieve it?

    Why worry about plagiarism if I can locate what is worth saying, take what is already well spoken (does the world need more badly reworded variants of the same ideas?), and mash it up into something that I want to express as a different whole message?

    Why test me on information tidbits that anyone and everyone looks up instead of teaching me how to think about information I look up?

    If the majority of communication is telepathic, instant, sloppy, and disposable, why beat me up for grammar when I am trying to communicate ideas?

    The list could go on but this is the real challenge to education. In oceans of information and communication saturation, how and what do we teach and how and what works best.

    The argument that one should ignore the saturation of communication devices, their mediums and influence, and act as if it will go away if one ignores it is antithetical to education no matter who delvers the message.

    Dan, you are far more sophisticated and nakedly honest than the vast majority of your profession. The subjects you are tackling will result in occasionally clumsy monologue and dialog but that’s okay. You are shaking the profession up and that’s a good thing – not an easy, polite thing but a really good thing.

  14. Well…..some of you seem to be very serious about research based content. As a member of team that put this video together allow me to set some context. First, I will say the idea for the video is certainly not original. I doubt many ideas implemented in K-12 public education are 100% original. We depend on and pull from all sources to implement the vey best instructional program we can.

    This video is one piece of a comprehensive emphasis placed on learning and teaching with tools that our 21st century student’s appreciate. The district has deployed a significant amount of technology over the past two years and we recognize the need to not only spend money but to also have outstanding support systems. The “Time to Listen” video was one resource in a package designed to announce the reorganization of in-district technology staff development and the launching of a blog to share best practice stories.

    Honestly it was never our intention to have the video viewed outside the context of the district program. I am however thankful that Scott posted the media. I truly believe the open sharing of ideas, opinions and concerns is productive.

  15. Richard,

    Welcome to my world.

    Concerning support systems, I didn’t see tech support issues addressed in your video (sorry, did I miss it?). Buying a lot of stuff can be great, as long as you have people to take care of it.

  16. Re: Support Issues

    An idea that I have been promoting for years now is based on the idea that technology has now reached a price point that buying high school students a laptop that they own and are responsible for makes more sense than the school buying and maintaining a mountain of such things.

    IMO, giving incoming freshmen a new (say <$500) laptop or netbook and expecting them to use it for their four years of high school eliminates the wild overhead costs and management nightmares any other alternative offers.

    At that point the school merely provides wireless for students and admin software of teachers on a closed system.

  17. And now a few words from an older teacher. I’m in my 9th year teaching kindergarten at the age of 57. Videos of this type may be old news to the Facebook YouTube generation, but for those of us who rarely check these sites out and more rarely pass one along to our friends and family, I found the college “eduporn” video to be enlightening of modern day experience for young people. We don’t have much more at our school beyond a classroom computer. The upper elementary students use laptops from a few carts a couple of times a week but the younger kids are not likely to use them. There are two SmartBoards in the building. A few people have wired VGA adapters bring ing the computer image to the classroom television. The training involved in exploring and then incorporating technology is always at a deficit so people are not picking up new technology for classroom use.
    Some folks here commented on the excitement of seeing some technology in action but never utilizing it. That’s where my school is. Not only is the budget strangling the purchase of new hardware but no one fully utilizes what they have.
    Thanks for the fresh ideas from everyone and most especially Mr. Meyer. You are on my Google Reader so I don’t miss a post.

  18. Gail, thanks for dropping by. I don’t want to denigrate the content of these videos, which, as you say, is provocative and attempts to align our vision to the future rather than the past. I object, instead, to how they use children within that content.

  19. The underlying irrelevance and purposelessness of today’s educational systems have not been changed much, if any, by the addition of information technology. Adding the technosaviorist message only distracts from the underlying pedagogical putrification that ails us. Until what is taught becomes meaningful to people’s lives, these videos will only distract us from what really needs to be done.

    @krasicki–great comments–on fire! I need to spend more time over at your blog.

    Here’s some of my eduporn: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D26LWV8WWbo

  20. @Bill Farren – Thanks for the compliment.

    I just watched your video which is outstanding but disqualifies itself as EP because you didn’t have children delivering the message (Dan’s metric).

    The theme of your video is near and dear to my heart though. Postman, Rozak, Baudrillard, and many other thinkers are spot on when they discuss the absence of ideas, critical thinking, meaning, and so on in our curriculums.

    Many years ago, someone compared a pencil to a computer and argued that either could be used to write the Declaration of Independence. But the mere rote memorization of facts won’t produce anything like Shakespeare, Einstein, or a thinker worth talking to.

    We have reached a point of immersion in information throughput. What happens in schools is quaint. But people are conditioned to shop 24/7/365. When the Iraq war was launched, Bush advised anxious Americans to go on a shopping spree. Bad schools – here’s a discount coupon – go shop. Shop for doctors, cures, teachers, answers that suit you, grades that reflect your buying power, and so on.

    No matter how we reform schools, the likelihood of overcoming the immediate gratification of eternally being #1 and punishing those who are not #1 is a fool’s errand.

    Schools cannot succeed at being information overload detox centers. They must adapt to become agents of information overload management strategy.

    Learners need to say no, enough, and why should I believe anything that anyone says without proof. Having intelligence in a belligerent society makes for a lonely existence and kids are keenly wired to these feelings.

    The neo-Orwellian political season does nothing to ease our concern.