Fry’s Planet Word: Babel

SmartLessons, Sophie's Tips, Tips and Tricks, Video Highlights

patrick-tomasso-71909-unsplashWhat is the value of language? Indeed, why is it something that we study, or devote the slightest iota of attention to? ‘Babel’, the first episode of Fry’s Planet Word, presented by Stephen Fry, explores this very notion, focussing upon the origins of language as a uniquely human concept, helping both teachers and students to gain a greater understanding of this foundational method of communication and thus obtain a greater appreciation, both of its importance and how it continues to shift and develop over time.

At its root, language is the grounding method of communication, but it does far more than that, with the acquisition and development of our utilisation of language being, according to Fry, ‘the most complex bit of brain processing that we know of.’ It goes beyond an animalistic need to communicate fear, hunger, danger, etc., becoming a nuanced social medium that differentiates vastly from person to person based upon a multitude of factors: the particular language you speak, the breadth of your personal vocabulary and manner in which you use it, the register that you use, whether or not in is appropriate to use idioms and colloquialisms regarding the situation, the list goes on and on. In short, language is something that uniquely identifies us, but also allows us to find commonality and communicate with those around us.

At present, there are approximately 7,000 languages in use today, varying from a handful of users, to over a billion. Whilst many of these languages differentiate in their conception of sentence structure, complexity, breadth of vocabulary, whether or not they are vocalised (in the case of sign language), the vast majority are made up of the same basic components: nouns, to identify things; adjectives, to describe them; verbs, to tell you what they do. It is from the use of these building blocks that much of what we identify as being a uniquely human quality springs from, a sinuous and consistently changing lens through which our worldview is shaped, in addition to allowing other people to share in our perspective.

Fry demonstrates the pervasive and fundamental nature of language in ‘Babel’ through a myriad of ways: the initial acquisition of language as the documentary tracks 15 month old Ruby over a one year period, philology, the comparisons between the Turkana language and English, how communication methods between animals are vastly different than those explored in humans, the determining factors on if a language flourishes or dies out, how our brains are affected by language use, and many other topics.

‘Babel’ proves to be an informative and uniquely insightful glance into the value of language and how it underpins so much of our daily lives, and will prove to be of particular interest to English and Language students as a supplement to their primary studies.

Here’s a list of TV4Education resources that can be used in relation to the topics covered in this post. If you use the SmartSuite version of TV4Education just search for the titles below on your site.

Fry’s Planet Word- Babel (S01E01)

The Sound of Aus (2007) 

TED-ED Lessons Worth Sharing- The Controversial Origins of the Encyclopedia

How I’m Discovering the Secrets of Ancient Texts

 

Raising Pompeii

SmartLessons, Sophie's Tips, Tips and Tricks, Video Highlights

caitlin-wynne-462953-unsplashRaising Pompeii, presented by Michael Buerk, provides a fantastic introduction to the study of Pompeii. It is a unique resource in that it showcases the former Roman port city in all its former glory, thanks to state-the-art computer imagery, in addition to its current state. Thus, it helps students to straddle the necessary perspectives of any historian: past and present, and the unmitigated correlation between the two.

The eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD undoubtedly consolidated Pompeii’s place in history. Located along the Bay of Naples and once considered one of the gateways to the Roman empire, Pompeii was once home to an estimated 12,000 people. Today, it hosts approximately 3 million tourists every year. What is the reason for this intense fascination? Is it merely a sense of morbid curiosity surrounding the deaths of those who died in the Plinean eruption on August 24th, 79 AD? Mayhap, but it is also due to the fact that it is so rare for us to be offered such a holistic look at life in an ancient city. Pompeii is certainly unique in this regard, the very eruption that devastated its inhabitants also serving to make a lasting vignette of their lives, due to the thick layer of ash and pumice that was wrought over the city during the pyroclastic flow.

Indeed, Buerk concerns himself primarily with the notion of bringing ‘this city back to life’ and the lives that those in Pompeii led, not their grisly demise. Aided with computer generated reproductions, Raising Pompeii showcases Pompeii as it would have been in the 1st century AD, drawing on a wealth of knowledge from an array of archaeologists and historians such as Dr Sophie Hay and Peter Ellis. Every aspect of life in Pompeii is explored, from the agricultural industry, made possible by the rich volcanic soil, their production of wine and the infamous fish sauce garum, their imports and exports as a port city, diet, entertainment and even the utilisation of cosmetics are all discussed, as Buerk leads us through a sweeping look at life in Pompeii.

However, Buerk is also sure to provide specific examples of Pompeian life, leading us through the niche Porta Marina district and the house and bar of Sextus Pompeius Amarantus, showcasing the value of hospitality within Roman society as a platform with which to demonstrate your status, be it via the grand atrium or the food that was offered to guests, consolidating the class divide within Roman culture. He also demonstrates the importance of the forum within Roman society, be it as a political, religious (as showcased by the dominating presence of the temples of Jupiter, Apollo and Vespa) or social platform. We also delve into the importance of sports within Pompeian society, particularly gladiators and the Roman taste for the macabre. Buerk takes us around the amphitheatre, a veritable monolith of architecture and the first stone structure of its kind in Italy, made to host up to 20,000 people. Overall, every aspect showcased serves as a heady reminder of the might and grandeur of the ancient Roman empire.

Raising Pompeii serves as a fantastic introduction to the world of Pompeii and Ancient Rome in general, and will undoubtedly serve to pique student’s interest beyond the events of the eruption, providing a broader context with which to ground their study.

Here’s a list of TV4Education resources that can be used in relation to the topics covered in this post. If you use the SmartSuite version of TV4Education just search for the titles below on your site.

Raising Pompeii

Pompeii Life Before Death

Pompeii Cellar of Skeletons

Pompeii- New Secrets Revealed

The Other Pompeii- Life and Death in Herculaneum

Shark Tank – Investing and Entrepreneurship

Newsletters, SmartLessons, Video Highlights

Humanities and Social Sciences – Economics and Business

Curriculum Code: (ACHEK020)

Aim:
Students understand how people derive an Alternative sources income.

Preparing:

Ask students to give you 10 different businesses that they use everyday. (E.G. apple, coles etc)

Presenting:
Investing

Shark Tank http://www.tv4education.com.au/SmartLibrary/SmartLibraryWeb/TitleView.html?BookID=153106.01

Owning a business
Be your Own Boss
http://www.tv4education.com.au/SmartLibrary/SmartLibraryWeb/TitleView.html?BookID=139810.01

Choose a business case from each of the programs and ask students if they would invest/Start that business.

Divide class into business owners and investors. Give half different businesses with Financials, growth and details.
Give the other Half a portfolio of money and different businesses they own.
Use Shark Tank.doc to look at businesses and investors portfolios, you can use this list create your own or get your students to make up businesses.

Applying:
Get students with businesses to find investment and investors to find a business that will be good for their portfolio.
Get students to discuss why they should be invested in or why they should accept the terms from the investor.
After get them to explain why they choose their partners.
Read out list of successful companies and the companies who failed. (Mix up the ones that didn’t get investment with those that did that were successful)

Links:
Stock Market Game
https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/sites/default/files/games/off-site/ogol/_invest-quest.html