Sunday, January 7, 2018

Crash Course YouTube. Perspectives On Learning. Unschooling. Education as Growth. Crash Chronic Illness Days = New "Crash Course YouTube" Days.

I define a chronic illness "Wasted Day" as one in which I can not even function. One I have to spend the whole day wishing time away to cope. But I know from my experiences within suffering from Chronic conditions, that there are also "wasted" days that are on a lesser level. On these days I STILL have to spend most of the day in bed, but I can text occasionally or quickly answer an email or watch episodes or shows. I can walk around the house a bit but end up exhausted quickly and needing to go back to bed because my symptoms worsen. I would call this a "level 2 wasted day." Level 1's are the worst and there is not much that can be done in them, but Level 2 days leave me feeling a bit of guilt. Because if I was good enough to quickly text a friend, even if I had to recover after, should I not be well enough to do a household chore or school my kids? But each time I have tried this, I would be sicker than when I started.

But then I had an epiphany! I recently suffered a Level 2 day. My husband estimated that these 'Level 2 Wasted Days' tend to happen every two weeks. That is a lot of time, once added up, of being near the bed all day. Especially when added to the Level 1 days that are more spaced out...and the normal day to day struggle of chronic illness or being a "*Spoonie" that I try to power through. Thus, you can see how I was distressed about this fact and my time management. Especially because I value my children learning. I am one of the main sources of integration of their learning and facilitator of resources. This requires me being active.

Which brings in my epiphany moment. I was confined to bed again, flipping through Netflix pointlessly because I was already caught up on all my regular shows, and wasn't interested in starting new ones. I also didn't feel like mindless viewing yet I didn't have the capacity to read a book or teach from a book...or much else that requires talking. Talking out loud is EXHAUSTING when one is already tired, nauseated or dealing with other bodily symptoms. Which nullifies my usefulness in many ways. I decided to browse through Crash Course (CLICK.) I chose Crash Course Ecology (CLICK). I find it fascinating. I convinced my husband and children to watch three episodes with me. The episodes run at about 12 minutes each. As we were watching, I realized that we had free time the rest of the day...Why couldn't we focus the day on Crash Course while I was "Crashing" in bed???! I came up with the plan of watching three episodes in a row, with half hour breaks in between to get food, play, write down what was learned if wished, or exercise...and for myself, to lie in quiet and recover. After the half hour break, we come back and the next member of the family would choose three episodes of any Crash Course topic.

My husband chose "Crash Course Philosophy (Click)" (which we have already completed as a family but it's fun to go over it again) and my youngest son also chose this as his option. My daughter chose Crash Course Film History (click). My other son chose Crash Course Chemistry (CLICK). For my second choice, I chose Crash Course Anatomy and Physiology (CLICK.) I almost chose Crash Course Psychology (CLICK) but we had already completed the course awhile back, so I wanted something new. Honestly? I almost get stressed looking though all of the options because I LOVE THEM ALL. I want to watch the episodes over and over again and memorize the details. Hank Green is my favourite host, or maybe his brother John Green Is...I can't decide...but each host is amazing in their chosen field.

For the second round, my Husband chose "Crash Course Mythology ( CLICK)" and "Crash Course Sociology (click)" while my youngest chose, "Crash Course Physics (CLICK,)" my daughter chose "Crash Course World History" and my eldest son chose "Crash Course Astronomy (CLICK.)"  Our afternoon was not long enough to engage with Crash Course Literature - CLICK or  Crash Course Biology (click) or Crash Course Economics (click) or "Crash Course Big History (click)" ...or any of the other spectacular choices.

I am excited about my level 2 chronic illness days because they now have a purpose I feel good about, while still engaging somewhat with my family. We will actually have fond memories about my illness. In fact, my children, looking back, may even be glad on some levels, that I was the mom that I am, with the suffering I have, which enabled very different life choices! I have a fond regard for the  both Hank and John Green and the team of Crash Course for these incredible video resources. The Crash Course series are brilliant, thoughtful and fun. Our children love the cartoons drawn by the graphics team "Thought Cafe" and the humorous ways the material is presented. Our youngest was five when we first found Crash Course, and even his ADD, five year old self would sit through an entire episode.

My eldest son was frustrated recently during Chemistry, "Why do I have to learn about Electrons and the Periodic table if I am not planning to go into scientific fields." To which I replied, "So let me get this straight? You won't bother to learn about cognitive functioning or anxiety coping mechanisms or personalities because you are not planning to be a Psychologist? Even if you live better because you know these aspects of yourself? Or you are not going to learn about how our world works and how it has shaped us because you are not planning to be a Biologist? Why do we bother to learn that 2 plus 2 ALWAYS equals four if we do not like math? Why bother learning about how culture works collectively and the individuality behind it if we are not studying Sociology or Psychology? Do you see where I am going with this? Many people approach learning as a means to get somewhere. Which is part of the equation...but you lose something if this is how subject matter is approached. Learning should be something that is done for the sake of yourself. When you know and understand more about all aspects of this world, you will make better decisions which will also affect the world at large. Ignorance breeds contempt, prejudice, hatred and fundamentalism. The more you learn about Chemistry, Physics, History, Literature, Anatomy, Philosophy, Sociology, Psychology, ect. and connect them together to grow your mind's perspective, the more you will become a balanced, thought out individual. Why do you bother to learn how to build Lego? Enjoyment motivates you, right? But sometimes you are frustrated, yet you prefer your life with Lego in it, don't you? What aspects of learning are in Lego alone? Now, you tell me why you have to learn about electrons. And for the record, mainstream "Education" is mostly about control, I want your approach to learning to be about Freedom and Growth."

Usually my son will argue further but he simply mumbled,"That makes sense." Which amused me because usually I do not make a strong enough point for him to concede, but I didn't show any expression in my face. I didn't want to discourage his thought process. Later he showed me his summary of a complex theory based on electrons and he excitedly explained all the details. It was a victory.

We are lucky to have ample resources which we use to promote growth, understanding, humour, compassion, empathy, and intelligence. Crash Course is one of many, but it stands out because of the short, yet full way each episode is presented... and because, for a chronic illness mother, it is accessible and easy to incorporate. It’s also a great use of time for anyone, of any age, who has a few minutes to learn.

Isn't this age we live in full of happy surprises?

Post edit: Some episodes may not be age appropriate for children( mythology ect...)
*Being a Spoonie/Spoon theory; "The spoon theory is a disability metaphor and neologism used to explain the reduced amount of energy available for activities of daily living and productive tasks that may result from disability or chronic illness. ... A person who runs out of spoons has no choice but to rest until their spoons are replenished." (taken from here:

Song Choice: Learn me Right - Byrdie and Mumford and Sons:


Anonymous said...

Thank you for this! I checked out the Philosophy and it was instructive and fun. I also appreciated some of your food for thought on approach to education.- R

Kmarie A. said...

Thanks. I am glad it was fun and educational....and that it gave some thoughts also in that regard. Do watch more if you have time as they are great resources!

Ashe Skyler said...

Thank you for the link! My kindergartener is almost purely a video/app learner, so this will come in handy when he's a bit older and ready for heavier topics. Or, he might already be there for all I know. He was telling me in detail why the sky was blue, and the only part he got wrong was that he couldn't remember the gas in question was called "nitrogen". That Story Bots show on Netflix ain't bad. Er, from an educational perspective. The jingles and all are just as grating as any other kid show out there.

My best argument for chemistry is food. Food is nothing more than edible chemistry, right down to how it rots and how it is digested, and that also extends to vitamins, supplements, drugs, allergies, and whatnot. Then for us with sensory issues in particular, if you have to start making your own cleaning products like toothpaste and dish detergent because the commercial stuff makes you too sick, a basic understanding of chemistry helps prevent blowing up the house, or more realistically, avoid toxic combinations like ammonia and bleach. Not that I knew any of that when I was in school. I had to figure it out as an adult. There's also a lot of good results when you do a search for "____ used in daily life". I do wish more of our textbooks came with little daily life factoids, because a lot of it really does seem incredibly pointless when they omit lessons on practical application. Take algebra for example. Who in the world is buying 57 watermelons for the heck of it?? Not a relatable example for the majority of us. :P

Kmarie A. said...

Ashe: My youngest is the same way...and he loved them...some of them are def not appropriate for certain ages while others def are. Oh great suggestion!
Yes chemistry is so crucial to life and I can not believe my education grossly neglected it ( actually I can- I was an astute learner in school - with the exception of math- and I dont believe I was taught much of anything useful plus it was slanted. You are right- knowing the reactions and downsides ect for chemicals in the house and cleaners ect is very important for people with sensory issues or even chronic illness. LOL yea the algebra examples in my daughters books crack me up. It is weird.:)