Primer is creating learning videos
228
patrons
$1,312
per video

Quick info

I'm making educational YouTube videos. All pledge levels give access to the Patreon feed, where I'll keep folks up to date and occasionally ask for input. You can see other tier rewards to the right.

If you decide to make a pledge, be aware that it's per-video rather than per-month. These videos take a while to make, though, so I've been publishing less than one per month anyway. For the foreseeable future, I won't charge for more than two (or probably even one) video per month. If that changes, I'll notify Patrons beforehand. Also, you can set a personal limit to be safe.

There's also a reddit community for discussion, which is a key part of actually internalizing ideas you're exposed to in a passive medium like video.

If you're curious about what I'm doing and why, read on.

The goal

Innovation is notoriously hard in education. Before starting this channel, I spent the previous five years as a part of Khan Academy's content team and saw first-hand how difficult it is to change the way things work. Test makers, teachers, and resource creators all look to each other for cues on what's important. They have to do this to serve each other and their students well, but the long-term result is curricular stagnation. If you've ever been in a classroom where a student raised their hand to ask "Why are we learning this?", you know what I mean. You've probably been that student at one point or another.

Primer's goal is to make it easier for people to have their life enriched by knowledge. The method is to take a fresh approach to academic subjects, forgetting about the established curricula and always keeping the "why" in view. There are two core beliefs underlying this goal. First, gaining understanding of the world is among the greatest pleasures a human being can experience. Yes, learning can prepare you for a career (and that's nothing to sneeze at), but you don't need to work in a field for its great lessons to enrich your life. Second, and perhaps more importantly, anyone can gain a deep understanding of any subject. You don't need a Ph.D. to understand core ideas.

This kind of message seems to resonate with just about everyone, and yet, so few people and organizations, faced with tough business realities, are able to break the mold directly. So, I decided to leave Khan and try to do something you can only do if you're small. Thankfully, Patreon and YouTube make it possible for even the smallest among us to gain an audience and, potentially, a living while doing work that might otherwise never see the light of day.

My hope is that Primer can play some small part in helping us re-think what an education should be.

Upcoming work

For the next several months, I'll continue working on the evolution and economics series. Evolution is the very core of biology, and hey, we're all organisms, so that seemed like a good place to start, and economics is a topic in which YouTube seems to have few innovative channels, so that's where I went next.

For future series, I plan to poll patrons to see what the community thinks is most important. To give you an idea of the possibilities, here are some current candidates:
  • Science in general. The scientific method is taught as a list of steps, but students rarely learn why those steps matter. This series will include some epistemology, some study of habits of human thinking that can lead us to mistakes (i.e., biases and fallacies), and a look at institutions and norms that help us move toward truth in the long run.
  • Physical science. This includes both chemistry and physics. This was my focus in college and grad school, so it would be a pleasure to introduce these subjects for their beauty rather than as "weeder" courses.
  • Math. There's plenty of math content on YouTube, but most of it is either higher level or focused on helping students with established curricula. If I do a math series, it will deal with concepts normally taught at the middle school or early high school level, and it will focus on discovery and experimentation rather than a march through mathematical structures and procedures. A major source of inspiration would be Paul Lockhart's Measurement .

Of course, all of this depends on support from people like you. Whether you decide to contribute or not, thanks so much for reading this far.
Tiers
Patron
$2 or more per video

Thanks for helping make these videos possible!


As a Patron, you'll gain access to the Patron-only feed. You'll be invited to periodic surveys to help determine topics for future videos and series. 

Insider
$5 or more per video
You're basically buying me a sandwich. That's pretty cool, so the blob creature representing you has sweet shades.  It knows what's up, and so will you.


As an Insider, you'll get EARLY ACCESS to videos and SNEAK PEEKS at new animations and visualizations under production. Includes rewards from previous tiers.

Adviser
$13 or more per video

Wow, you mean business. I'd love to know what you think as I'm working. Just promise to hide your disappointment in me better than this blob creature is doing. Or don't. Either way.


On top of the rewards from previous tiers, there are two parts to being an Adviser:

  

  • I'll solicit your FEEDBACK ON EACH VIDEO you support at this level, helping me better understand how to make the best videos possible.
  • In each video you support, I'll put YOUR NAME IN THE VIDEO DESCRIPTION on YouTube. 
Custom text animation
$23 or more per video
For each month you support at this level, I'll make a 5-second video clip of any text you want morphing into any other text you want, with your choice of colors and fonts. 


While working on these videos, I've enjoyed using these in random places such as text messages when I want a certain feel. Any usefulness aside, it's a small way to share part of what makes Primer videos unique.

Includes rewards from previous tiers, and my deep thanks.

On-screen thanks
$37 or more per video
Dang. People need to know how much you're doing to help. At the end of each video you support at this level, I'll include your name in a "Special Thanks" section.


Includes all previous rewards.

Personal phone call
$53 or more per video
You are a champion.


I'm not quite sure how to thank you, but I'll give you a call and do my best. I'm genuinely curious who you are and what inspired you to give your hard-earned cash to this project. 


And, of course, this includes all previous rewards.

Goals
$1,312 of $5,000 per video
At this level, I'd be able to do this full-time while continuing to prioritize quality over quantity.
2 of 2

Quick info

I'm making educational YouTube videos. All pledge levels give access to the Patreon feed, where I'll keep folks up to date and occasionally ask for input. You can see other tier rewards to the right.

If you decide to make a pledge, be aware that it's per-video rather than per-month. These videos take a while to make, though, so I've been publishing less than one per month anyway. For the foreseeable future, I won't charge for more than two (or probably even one) video per month. If that changes, I'll notify Patrons beforehand. Also, you can set a personal limit to be safe.

There's also a reddit community for discussion, which is a key part of actually internalizing ideas you're exposed to in a passive medium like video.

If you're curious about what I'm doing and why, read on.

The goal

Innovation is notoriously hard in education. Before starting this channel, I spent the previous five years as a part of Khan Academy's content team and saw first-hand how difficult it is to change the way things work. Test makers, teachers, and resource creators all look to each other for cues on what's important. They have to do this to serve each other and their students well, but the long-term result is curricular stagnation. If you've ever been in a classroom where a student raised their hand to ask "Why are we learning this?", you know what I mean. You've probably been that student at one point or another.

Primer's goal is to make it easier for people to have their life enriched by knowledge. The method is to take a fresh approach to academic subjects, forgetting about the established curricula and always keeping the "why" in view. There are two core beliefs underlying this goal. First, gaining understanding of the world is among the greatest pleasures a human being can experience. Yes, learning can prepare you for a career (and that's nothing to sneeze at), but you don't need to work in a field for its great lessons to enrich your life. Second, and perhaps more importantly, anyone can gain a deep understanding of any subject. You don't need a Ph.D. to understand core ideas.

This kind of message seems to resonate with just about everyone, and yet, so few people and organizations, faced with tough business realities, are able to break the mold directly. So, I decided to leave Khan and try to do something you can only do if you're small. Thankfully, Patreon and YouTube make it possible for even the smallest among us to gain an audience and, potentially, a living while doing work that might otherwise never see the light of day.

My hope is that Primer can play some small part in helping us re-think what an education should be.

Upcoming work

For the next several months, I'll continue working on the evolution and economics series. Evolution is the very core of biology, and hey, we're all organisms, so that seemed like a good place to start, and economics is a topic in which YouTube seems to have few innovative channels, so that's where I went next.

For future series, I plan to poll patrons to see what the community thinks is most important. To give you an idea of the possibilities, here are some current candidates:
  • Science in general. The scientific method is taught as a list of steps, but students rarely learn why those steps matter. This series will include some epistemology, some study of habits of human thinking that can lead us to mistakes (i.e., biases and fallacies), and a look at institutions and norms that help us move toward truth in the long run.
  • Physical science. This includes both chemistry and physics. This was my focus in college and grad school, so it would be a pleasure to introduce these subjects for their beauty rather than as "weeder" courses.
  • Math. There's plenty of math content on YouTube, but most of it is either higher level or focused on helping students with established curricula. If I do a math series, it will deal with concepts normally taught at the middle school or early high school level, and it will focus on discovery and experimentation rather than a march through mathematical structures and procedures. A major source of inspiration would be Paul Lockhart's Measurement .

Of course, all of this depends on support from people like you. Whether you decide to contribute or not, thanks so much for reading this far.

Recent posts by Primer

Tiers
Patron
$2 or more per video

Thanks for helping make these videos possible!


As a Patron, you'll gain access to the Patron-only feed. You'll be invited to periodic surveys to help determine topics for future videos and series. 

Insider
$5 or more per video
You're basically buying me a sandwich. That's pretty cool, so the blob creature representing you has sweet shades.  It knows what's up, and so will you.


As an Insider, you'll get EARLY ACCESS to videos and SNEAK PEEKS at new animations and visualizations under production. Includes rewards from previous tiers.

Adviser
$13 or more per video

Wow, you mean business. I'd love to know what you think as I'm working. Just promise to hide your disappointment in me better than this blob creature is doing. Or don't. Either way.


On top of the rewards from previous tiers, there are two parts to being an Adviser:

  

  • I'll solicit your FEEDBACK ON EACH VIDEO you support at this level, helping me better understand how to make the best videos possible.
  • In each video you support, I'll put YOUR NAME IN THE VIDEO DESCRIPTION on YouTube. 
Custom text animation
$23 or more per video
For each month you support at this level, I'll make a 5-second video clip of any text you want morphing into any other text you want, with your choice of colors and fonts. 


While working on these videos, I've enjoyed using these in random places such as text messages when I want a certain feel. Any usefulness aside, it's a small way to share part of what makes Primer videos unique.

Includes rewards from previous tiers, and my deep thanks.

On-screen thanks
$37 or more per video
Dang. People need to know how much you're doing to help. At the end of each video you support at this level, I'll include your name in a "Special Thanks" section.


Includes all previous rewards.

Personal phone call
$53 or more per video
You are a champion.


I'm not quite sure how to thank you, but I'll give you a call and do my best. I'm genuinely curious who you are and what inspired you to give your hard-earned cash to this project. 


And, of course, this includes all previous rewards.