Today, I’m feeling grateful for YouTube.
It feels funny that I can remember the babyhood of YouTube even though so many people I spend time with every day cannot (because they weren’t even born).
I remember thinking, “Who is going to watch random strangers doing inconsequential things in their living rooms?” Turns out, almost everyone! Including me!
YouTube is a double-edged sword, I know. It’s addictive, it’s the ultimate rabbit hole, and by its nature it gives voice to some horrifying things sometimes, along with the hilarious and touching.
I have mixed feelings about my son’s YouTube channel too. On the one hand, it’s a very motivating hobby for him (he just made it to 50 subscribers and he’s SUPER PROUD) and it’s deadly cute hearing him go “Hey, guys, welcome to another video,” behind his bedroom door. But of course I also fret endlessly about the amount of screen time in his life (and in kids’ lives in general).
But for now, I’d like to express my gratitude at the amazing resource that YouTube is for me, as a teacher. The ability to find authentic material, to introduce students to art and language that it would otherwise be very hard to find… I don’t know how I taught without all that.
I love finding videos of French pop songs (with important messages) for the kids to learn from. (This one is a hands-down fave, year after year.) I love finding clips of people playing the sitar and the mbira and the qilaut – and other instruments I will likely never have access to. I’m grateful to be able to show performances of different styles of dance from all over the world. I’m glad I can inspire the kids’ art with clips of people drawing cool things for Inktober. And I’ll be honest, I get a kick out of finding “Téléfrançais” episodes that are almost as old as I am, and making kids watch the scary French ananas.
We could say that YouTube is of questionable legitimacy, being so created-by-the-populace. But to me, it’s a way to fill in gaps that single-perspective textbooks and teacher guidebooks have been plagued with forever. It’s a way to answer that important critical question, “Whose voice is missing here?” I’m grateful to be able to find the “missing” voices.