Serial thinker. A philosophy teacher who became a hit with TikTok videos.

His videos on TikTok have received several million views in a few days: Strasbourg philosophy professor Lev Frankel is at work.


Philosophy baccalaureate concepts summed up in three-minute videos: Strasburg professor Lev Frankel has won on TikTok with his “Serial Thinker” account, where his relaxed style and borrowings from pop culture mesmerize high school students.

“Young people are not interested, they don’t ask questions anymore,” we say. I think this is completely wrong, they ask a lot. But the current education system is not conducive to the emergence of these questions”, thinks this 41-year-old teacher, who “three years ago”, first on Youtube, started to “teach differently”.

He baptizes his account with the name “Serial Thinker” (Serial Thinker), which he uses on TikTok. Encrypted Tribute to Socrates: “He was considered a ‘serial killer’ (“serial killer”, reference). A serial thinker’, he explains, “is an old man who wanders around Athens asking questions and is sentenced to death”.

Bad philosophy

“It was the first thing to disrupt the system” and “I wanted to show the ‘bad’, ‘tough guy’ side of philosophy,” he smiles.

To explain his questions about love, vegetarianism, or the meaning of life, Lev Frankel sticks to “the barn of a 16- or 17-year-old” and digs into “pop culture” to talk him through philosophy “in his language.” , by invoking series (“Snowpiercer”, “Dahmer”) or blockbusters (“Fast and Furious”).

His first Youtube videos, aimed at the general public and some over twenty minutes, met with modest success.

But in June, while still an undergraduate, he started on TikTok: success was immediate, with “100,000 subscribers in a few days” and “6 or 7 million views. It was impressive,” Mr. Frankel recalled.

The secret? The tightly scripted three-minute videos were shot in his Strasbourg apartment with former student Simon Schott, who founded his production company Wolfdog. In jeans and t-shirts, he summarizes 17 ideas of baccalaureate philosophy (state, unconsciousness, language, freedom…) in a casual tone, actual revision papers.

Interspersed with quotations from major authors, they quickly become a hit among high school students amid revisions before a philosophy exam.

According to many students, their performance is strong. Strasbourg Cyril Hadef, 18, a medical student, thanks them for being “19” in his undergraduate studies: Lev Fraenckel has the ability to simplify the most complex things to understand something “worldwide”. young man

For the author, the “proof” is that his “method works. We can do serious philosophy” while also being “a little bit entertaining.”

Mbappe’s salary

“I don’t like things that are too closed,” he continues, and as a child, he didn’t value “school” much and asked himself “a lot of existential questions.” But at the time, “I said: ‘If you do philosophy, you’ll become a nomad,'” he recalled.

After a few years in chartered accountancy, he realized that if he stayed in the field and enrolled in philosophy at the University of Strasbourg, he risked “completely withering away”. A “shock”, by his own admission: “I say to myself: here, this is where I should have always been”.

He began a thesis on psychoanalysis and existentialism and, in 2014, successfully passed his CAPS in philosophy.

From Strasburg High School, where he currently teaches, he still offers courses in the history of religions at the university, one laughs, to keep a foot in teaching “IRL, in real life” (“in real life”). Who gives a year to live through his activity on TikTok.

He will soon publish a book “Helping Terminal Students Pass Philosophy Undergraduates”. Others will follow, “Big Public”, in which he likes to develop themes addressed in specific videos, for example “Does Mbappé deserve his salary?”

And at the beginning of December, he will exchange with God Elmaleh on the Internet about the story of his “Reste un Beau” religious introspection. “Very funny stuff,” says Lev Frankel. “I give what I want. For me, philosophy should also have a fun aspect.


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