Breaking Bad

Breaking Bad closed out its third season last night standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the all-time great TV dramas. Here’s showrunner Vince Gilligan describing (allegorically) what’s so exhilarating about classroom teaching:

Television is a great job for a writer in the way that movies used to be, way before my time. Back when writers in Hollywood were on staff or under contract at any given studio and you’d write movie scripts and then the movies would get made within a few weeks, such that you could be a working writer in the movie business back in the ’30s and ’40s and ’50s and have a hand in writing five or six movies a year that actually got produced. The only thing remotely like that in the 21st century here in Hollywood is working in the TV business. My writers and I sit around and dream this stuff up and then we see it executed a week or even days later, and it’s a wonderful feeling and it’s magical.

Though, with teaching, that timeframe shrinks to hours when you’re improving a lesson you taught first period for use in your third period class.

BTW: Here’s a bonus remark from Donna Bowman’s season finale review, celebrating television and rebuking the cultural Chicken Littles:

People living through a golden age often don’t know it. Extraordinary flowerings of art, technology, culture, or knowledge are obscured by intractable problems, crises, declines in other parts of the society. [..] It’s easy to look at television, with its 500 channels worth of endless crappy versions of the same empty ideas, and conclude that everything’s gone to shit. I have plenty of friends who are proud to proclaim the dreary, inevitable decline of entertainment, and answer my protests to the contrary with assertions that searching for the few worthwhile nuggets in that morass is a pointless waste of their time. Ironically, this pronouncement coincides with the greatest flowering of televised drama and comedy in the medium’s history. Freed by the proliferation of basic cable channels with a yen for signature programming, emboldened by the example of HBO, bolstered by fanatic followings and critical praise, the best television ever is on the air right now, in this decade. Throw in the DVR, the essential cure for the channel-surfing that hollows out the soul with its endless evidence of the wasteland, and suddenly your eyes are refocused above muck-level, where a profusion of flowers blooms.


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. I have coached, and tutored, a would-be engineer, sister of one of my own pupils. She was trying to succeed her first Bachelor in Civil Engeneering, here in Belgium.

    Surprisingly she pointed to MIT’s open courseware, although being in English, as better material than she recieved from her own professors.

    Although she struggeled with some of the basics in her Algebra course, she could still distinguish between horrid teaching and better teaching.

    Teaching and television really have a lot in common. Even people that are too restrained to completely understand nuances between good and poor instruction, can have a coarse feeling of what is good and what is less.