Shakespeare For Today

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


William Shakespeare is undoubtedly one of the greatest playwrights in history, and likely the best known. His work is still broadly studied and performed worldwide, more than four centuries after his death- so how has his work acquired a stereotype of being fusty, irrelevant and difficult to decipher?

Whether or not you are aware of it, Shakespeare’s work has cemented itself in the collective conscience of our society. For example, look at these common sayings and idioms: a foregone conclusion, a sea change, a sorry sight, dead as a doornail, all’s well that ends well, be all and end all, foul play, green eyed monster, hot-blooded, a charmed life, lie low, in a pickle, in stitches, I have not slept a wink, night owl, up in arms, woe is me, wild goose chase– the list goes on and on. What do these have in common? They were all originally coined by Shakespeare.

Perhaps one of the greatest errors in the study of his work is to concentrate solely upon the transcriptions of his plays: Shakespeare counted himself as a playwright, and thus his plays are designed to be performed to an audience as a visual medium, and not limited to the page. Given a performance of his work, the cadences of language and utilisation of techniques such as metaphor and iambic pentameter immediately become apparent to students, opening up the apparent barriers between our modern English and that of Shakespeare’s day. This allows students to better utilise their knowledge of the themes and motifs being explored within his work, rather than being bogged down by individual stanzas, without understanding the broader context of the act, or indeed the piece as a whole.

Indeed, perhaps the reason Shakespeare has been such an enduring influence upon our society is due to the commonality of the human experience that is explored within his work. Whether you are studying works as fanciful as the comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream or the romance The Tempest, his histories or his tragedies, they are all rooted in the tribulations, the joys, the melancholy and the general experience of what it is to be human. Love, loss, revenge and political intrigue are all common threads within his work, and it is largely for this reason that Shakespeare has stood the test of time- think of any popular film, television series, book or popular culture phenomenon, past or present, and they will likely be grounded in at least one of these things. Shakespeare was considered a vastly accessible playwright in his time, with every class coming to view his work. To be accessible to so many, he had to tap into the commonality between them all.

Another common error in studying his work is to purely view Shakespeare’s work through our own 21st century lens, without consideration for the historical, social and political context in which he was writing in. The culmination of this is often a sense of isolation and irrelevance on the part of students, or a complete misrepresentation of the original themes, such as an overt attachment of colonialist overtones to The Tempest. Whilst the universality of his plays and the exploration of our current context is an important addition to any textual study, it is just as vitally important to hold in consideration the viewpoints and broader context that Shakespeare was writing in.

As has been established, it is a necessity to study Shakespeare using a range of methods and angles, in order to better consolidate our understanding and bring his work to life. Here at TV4Education, we have a vast collection of material to better assist with this. Be it the fantastic Shakespeare Uncovered series, that delves into the context that Shakespeare wrote the play in whilst also examining how it the work continues to evolve, its relevance in today’s society, and the different facets that are explored by different actors, productions and scholars; or Lenny Henry Finding Shakespeare, a witty, down-to-earth look at how Shakespeare was originally for everybody, how this has changed over time, and how to rectify this; or the numerous of productions of his work in our collection, from Richard II, Othello, Romeo and Juliet, The Taming of the Shrew, The Tempest and many more.

Whilst close study of the written text is an important facet, viewing Shakespeare in action and accessing  a variety of perspectives through the medium of multimedia will prove to be an invaluable tool and addition to the classroom. The amalgamation of these learning techniques will foster an increased appreciation of Shakespeare’s work, something that will be enjoyed for years to come.

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.

Shakespeare Uncovered – Series

The Taming of The Shrew

Romeo and Juliet

Shakespeare Animated – Series

Horrible Histories Special Sensational Shakespeare



Insults by Shakespeare

Relates to Australian Curriculum Codes;


The Record Breakers

Newsletters, Video Highlights

What does it mean to win Gold?

With the opening ceremony of the 2016 Olympics we wait in anticipation as we see if the limits of human ability is once again shattered.

The 4 minute mile was said to be impossible for humans, but since Roger Bannister showed that is was possible thousands even people still in high school have been able to achieve this.

We celebrate those who broke the records, some born with super human abilities and others who had super human dedication and drive. Share these stories with your students and tell them what some call impossible others are training to show it is.


Cool Runnings (1993) The true story about four Jamaicans planning to compete as bobsled racers at the Winter Olympics


Chariots Of Fire – (1982) Two British track athletes, one a determined Jew and the other a devout Christian, compete in the 1924 Olympics.

Team USA celebrates "the Miracle on Ice"

MIRACLE (2014) Miracle tells the true story of Herb Brooks (Russell), the player-turned-coach who led the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team to victory over the seemingly invincible Russian squad.



Sporting Greats – Edwin Moses Edwin Moses won 107 consecutive finals, set the world record in the 400m hurdles event four times and won a gold medal at the 1976 and 1984 Olympics.


Sporting Greats – Nadia Comaneci Nadia Comaneci winner of five Olympic gold medals at the 1976 and the 1980 Olympics and is the first female gymnast to be awarded a perfect score of 10 in an Olympic gymnastic event.

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Naidoc Week

Newsletters, Video Highlights

NAIDOC celebrations are held around Australia each July to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

The week is celebrated not just in the Indigenous communities but also in increasing numbers of government agencies, schools, local councils and workplaces.

first aus.jpeg

First Australians – They Have Come To Stay

This landmark series chronicles the birth of contemporary Australia as never told before, from the perspective of its first people. It explores what unfolds when the oldest living culture in the world is overrun by the world’s greatest empire, and depicts the true stories of individuals – both black and white. The story begins in 1788 in Sydney with the friendship between an Englishmen, Governor Phillip, and a warrior, Bennelong.

Part 1 of 7


art + soul – Home and Away

Art + Soul explores the diversity of Indigenous culture through three themes – home and away, dreams and nightmares and bitter and sweet. Drawing on key works from the Gallery’s collection, it reveals the myriad of contemporary artistic expressions that evidence the enduring heritage of Indigenous Australia, in all its diversity and complexity.

Part 1 of 3

Animated traditional stories explained by the Elders including the Dolphin NSW and the Wanka Manapulpa Minyma, WA
Animated traditional stories explained by the Elders including the Dolphin NSW and the Wanka Manapulpa Minyma, WA




Through Lyrical images, Manganinnie journeys across mountains towards the coast with Joanna, a white girl, in search of Manganinnie’s vanished tribe. The poignancy of this film derives from the Aboriginal woman’s gradual realization that her people and the tribal way of life are forever gone. It is the story of the Black Drive of 1830, the attempted genocide of the Tasmanian Aborigines.


Anzacs Remembering Our Heroes

Anzacs – Remembering our heroes is a series of 15 minute documentary specials, produced by NITV to pay tribute to the military efforts of Indigenous people.


Colour Theory – Teho Ropeyarn

From the northernmost tip of far north Queensland, Teho Ropeyarn’s bold prints have traversed Australia, winning awards and representing the distinctive culture of the Torres Strait Islands.


Lurujarri Dreaming

This beautifully crafted animated documentary retraces the Lurujarri Dreaming Trail from the Goolarabooloo community in the Western Kimberley region of Western Australia.


Cleverman (s01e01)

A series of unexplained violent attacks in the city are blamed on the newly discovered ‘Hairypeople’, who have been living and passing among us, without our knowledge.

Part 1 of 6


Songlines – Footprints

Footprints is a film of the story, dance and culture of the Djugun people that has been brought to life from the dirt after 50 years, handed back to the Djugun people from its caretaker Roy Wiggan

Part 1 of 12


Jandamarra’s War

The story of an Australian Aboriginal man who should be as famous as Ned Kelly. In 1894, Jandamarra led a three year rebellion against invading pastoralists in defence of his people’s ancient land and culture.


The Chant Of Jimmie Blacksmith (1978)

Jimmie Blacksmith (Tommy Lewis), a man of half-Aboriginal ancestry, is pushed to the breaking point by the racist oppression perpetrated by the British in their rule of Australia in 1900, and by his inability to acclimate to Western culture. Raised in a white Christian family but never recognized by white individuals as their equal, Blacksmith undergoes frequent humiliations that provoke a violent response when he brutally murders his employer’s family.


Walkabout (1971)

Under the pretense of having a picnic, a geologist (John Meillon) takes his teenage daughter (Jenny Agutter) and 6-year-old son (Lucien John) into the Australian outback and attempts to shoot them. When he fails, he turns the gun on himself, and the two city-bred children must contend with harsh wilderness alone. They are saved by a chance encounter with an Aborigine boy (David Gulpilil) who shows them how to survive, and in the process underscores the disharmony between nature and modern life.

Why is politics important?

Newsletters, Video Highlights

Why is politics important?

This newsletter will tell us about the origins of politics, the various types of government that exists and how this will affect the current and future generations.


A dictatorship is a government or a social situation where one person makes all the rules and decisions without input from anyone else. Watch a dictator in action.


At the opposite end of the spectrum from capitalism, communism is an economic theory favouring a classless society and the abolition of private property. Watch a communist in action here.


A person who’s “born to rule” belongs to the ruling class, or aristocracy, and is “noble” just by being in the family line. Whether they have done anything noble or not. Watch an aristocrat in action here.


The method of rule, or policies, of Joseph Stalin, Soviet Communist Party and state leader from 1929 until his death in 1953. Stalinism is associated with a regime of terror and totalitarian rule. Watch him in action here.



Capitalism is an economic system featuring the private ownership of business wealth and the free and unfettered operation of trade markets. Watch a video that will highlight how capitalism works.



With Democracy the people get to decide the laws and ethics of a country. This allowed rights disallowed by many to be changed. Civil rights has effected every level of our society changing the laws we once held in high regard to shape the more common way people live their lives in 2016.

Race, gender and sexuality becoming issues which divided many nations, but with democracy we were able to collectively decide if this is what we want as a society. Watch a video that will highlight how democracy works.

Civil Rights


Vote Yes For Aborigines

The 1967 referendum on Aborigines first saw that, Aboriginal people were finally counted as people, before they came under the Flora and Fauna Act. This lead on to the right to vote and access to many other liberties others had access to for decades.


How Women Won The Vote

In 1902 Women were finally allowed to vote. Only 150 Years ago women had no rights when it came to voting or owning land. This documentary shows the lengths that these Australian men and women went to, ensuring this change.



After the Abolition of slavery in America in 1865 a hundred years later free people of colour were still unable to vote, access the same places, use the same facilities and go to the same schools as other Americans. Selma is the story of a famous March and turning point in the civil rights movement of the 1960’s. The use of “Jim Crow” laws allowed for the continued mistreatment of fellow American citizens by those sworn to serve and protect them.



In the early 19th Century only those who owned property were allowed to vote in parliamentary elections. This included women who were rate payers. Thanks to the sufferage movements of the early 20th century those who did not own property both men and women finally were allowed to vote, Part 1 of the series shows some of the tactics used to get the vote for all. This legacy lead to modern Democracy as we know it.


Revolutions are the end result when societies are unable to come together collectively to change the rules in which makes that society unfair to a majority of people.


Spartacus was a thracian gladiator who, along with other escaped slaves began the Third Servile War, a major slave uprising against the Roman Republic. The rebellion has proved inspiration for many who have faced similar circumstances.

1916 – The Irish Rebellion

The Easter Rising or Easter Rebellion was an armed insurrection in Ireland during Easter week April 1916. The rising was launched by Irish republicans who wanted to end British rule in Ireland and establish a independent Irish Republic. Part 1 of 3


Sir William Wallace was a Scottish knight who became one of the main leaders of the Wars of Scottish Independence. The Battle of Stirling Bridge where the English were defeated and caused William Wallace to be given the title Guardian of Scotland. The Battle of Falkirk saw the Scottish defeated and Sir William Wallace stood down from his title. He was captured in 1305 and Hung for High Treason.

Jandamarra’s War

Jandamarra lead a 3 year organised war against european colonists. He became a legend with his people the Bunuba Tribe, who believed he was immortal as he used hit and run tactics killing many police and settlers. He was finally killed by Micki, another Aboriginal tracker who was recruited by his children being held hostage by local police.

The Future



What’s happening to American democracy? With a populist billionaire demagogue winning support on the right, a self-declared socialist confounding US historical prejudices on the left and millions of disenchanted voters apparently determined to disregard the political establishment in Washington, the nomination race for this year’s presidential poll has become one of the most peculiar and polarised electoral contests in decades.

Donald Trump – The Apprentice President

Since announcing his candidacy, Donald Trump is everywhere. This billionaire candidate has become the champion of ordinary America, who travel for hundreds of miles to see him.

Generation X- The Politics of X

A look at how the political consciousness of Generation X evolved over several decades especially in terms of race and women’s rights.

The Budget

See how the government decides how taxes, spending and cuts are decided and how they affect us all. With 50% of tax breaks going to the top 10% of earners. Many see the budget as unfair whilst others see it as just a part of a capitalistic society.

Popular Videos – what are other schools watching?

Video Highlights

Ever wondered what programs other schools in Australia are watching? Take a look at Mays most downloaded programs across Australia by clicking on the image below.


Anzac Week

Newsletters, Video Highlights

TV4Education Plus remembers the Anzacs.


Beneath Hill 60

During World War I a mining engineer (Brendan Cowell) and his team dig a network of tunnels beneath German lines and pack them with explosives.


Gallipoli 1981

Two young Australian sprinters who want to join the army to fulfill their sense of duty.


Deadline Gallipoli

Three journalists, Charles Bean, Ellis Ashmead Bartlett and Phillip Schuler, arrive at Gallipoli with the invading British and Allied troops in 1915. They will report the war but are prevented from getting out the true story of an unfolding disaster. From encampment in Cairo to Anzac Cove to the evacuation, this is the story of journalists who will not accept that truth be the first casualty. This is the story of the men who will not shut up. The actions of these men will help change the course of the campaign, ensure that a strategic disaster becomes a legend of human heroism, and leave an impregnable mark on each of their lives.

Part 1 of 2.


Anzac Girls

Honouring the Centenary of the commencement of WW1, ANZAC Girls is a moving new six-part series based on the unique, and rarely told true stories of Australian and New Zealand nurses serving at Gallipoli and the Western Front.

Part 1 of 5


The Water Diviner

Four years after the Battle of Gallipoli, Australian farmer Joshua Connor travels to Turkey to find his three sons, who never returned home from the war.


Behind The News – Anzac Centenary

Let’s find out exactly what happened on the beaches of Gallipoli way back in 1915. Here’s Matt.