145K views & other news

This morning I checked in on my youtube videos at www.youtube.com/bikes4fish and was happy to see that the total views had cleared 145,000. Over 50% of the views have been from India—this year over 70% of the views have been from India. The most popular video is still the “Root Spiral of Theodorus“; in 2nd place is what I meant to be its companion, “Constructing Square Roots on the Number Line“. Formerly, the big months were October and November; now the big months are April and May. I’m wondering about the reasons driving all this, and about the fact that most of my more than 250 subscribers are from India. My best guess is that it all has to do with who’s trying to learn—or teach—what and when.

Since I mentioned wondering, a few days ago Hung-Hsi Wu told me about an excellent and thought-provoking speech by Dean James Ryan of the Harvard Graduate School of Education at HGSE’s 2016 Commencement. It’s worth sharing with you here, so here goes:

Dean James Ryan, HGSE

Ryan claims there are 5 essential questions that we all should keep in mind—plus a bonus question at the end. I’ll list them here (except for the bonus question), and include a transcript so you can read through the text and pore over it; but for starters, you should really watch and listen to his whole speech—the excerpt, actually—it’s not even 7 minutes long. Anyway, here are Dean Ryan’s 5 essential questions and his claims about them:

  1. “Wait, what?” is at the root of all understanding.
  2. “I wonder” is at the heart of all curiosity.
  3. “Couldn’t we at least…?” is at the beginning of all progress.
  4. “How can I help?” is at the base of all good relationships. And,
  5. “What really matters?” gets you to the heart of life.

Back to wondering about my videos’ popularity in India, I’m stuck on #2. If you’ve got something with better explanatory power than my rather obvious “who wants to learn/teach what/when curricular explanation, I’d love to hear it. I suppose #3, “Couldn’t we at least…?” was my motivation for making the videos in the first place: I thought it would be good to have a slide presentation (that later became a video) guiding students (i.e., James-Ryan-HGSE-5-questionspeople) slowly and surely through Theodorus’ square root spiral and another one that showed step-by-step how you could construct/locate some of the most commonly encountered real numbers—the square roots of 1…9 on the real line, all in the comfort and privacy of your own home/library/study space.

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