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 WORLD BABEL

The Sound Of Aus (2007)

The controversial origins of the Encyclopedia

How I’m discovering the secrets of ancient texts

 

Shakespeare For Today

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

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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

Othello

Hamlet

Insults by Shakespeare

Relates to Australian Curriculum Codes;

ACHAH070, ACDSEH059, ACELA1500, ACHHS070, ACHHS086, ACHHS124

New shows coming this week 28th August

Newsletters, Video Highlights

28/08/2017

Let’s take a look at what educational programs are on this week – rest assured that these programs will be available on TV4Education ad free shortly after they air on TV. (If they’re not already available).

Click here to see how easy it is to find and save the videos you want to use in the classroom.

Programs in Blue are from Free to air TV, Programs in Green are from Foxtel TV. All programs are available ad free to Australian Schools through TV4Education.


Monday


 

Diana – 20 Years On (History Channel)

20 years ago the world was devastated by the death of the “People’s Princess”, but her legacy lives on. [Classified PG]

*HOT TIP* Take a look at our other documentaries and movies about Diana’s life by searching for “Princess Diana”.
News & Documentaries | History | Humanitarian | Empathy | Monarchy | Media | Secondary | Influential People

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Full Proof – Plastic (ABC3 Channel)

Mona lives in Amsterdam and is worried about the plastic waste in her city. She finds plastic bottles and bags in the parks, on the streets and floating in the canals. She wants to find out what plastic is and why it shouldn’t end up in the environment. So she starts to experiment. She melts plastic, she molds plastic, she makes a beautiful vase with plastic and she finds out how she can use plastic waste to stop the plastic problem in Amsterdam. [Classified G]

Science | Chemistry | STEM | Experiments | Secondary | Primary

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History’s Secrets – Atomic Bomb (History Channel)

Especially in this tense political climate, you have to wonder, how are atomic bombs so accessible? [Classified PG]

News & Documentaries | History | Conflict | War | Science | Politics | Secondary

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Australian Story – Cracking Up (ABC1 Channel)

Comedian Sami Shah and psychologist Ishma Alvi left behind turmoil in Pakistan to give their young daughter a better life in Australia. When they ended up in a small country town in Western Australia, it was not the dream they’d imagined. Ishma found work in a detention centre and unemployed Sami hit the comedy circuit, poking fun at his new town of Northam, rousing the ire of some residents. [Classified PG]

News & Documentaries | Modern Australia | Comedy | Inspirational | Cultural Understanding | Journalism| Interview | Human Interest | Secondary

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Russia’s War: Blood Upon the Snow – The Cult Of Personality (s01e10) (History Channel)

Stalin’s game plan is particularly selfish at the end of World War II. [Classified M]

News & Documentaries | History | Secondary | War | Conflict | Secondary

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Science Max: Experiments at Large (s01e09) (ABC3 Channel)

Phil gives himself super strength using the power of simple machines to move, lift and roll a machine he could barely budge otherwise. Plus, lift yourself with one finger and watch cavemen discover the wheel. [Classified G]

Science | Design | Biology| Experiments | History| Primary

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Maiko – Dancing Child (Arts Channel)

Being a ballerina is one of the world’s most tough, competitive and painful jobs – but imagine starting a family at the same time. [Classified PG]

News & Documentaries | People & Culture |Arts | Dancing | Careers | Family | Stereotypes | Secondary | Performance Arts

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Chemistry Challenges And Solutions – The Behaviour Of Atoms: Phases Of Matter And The Properties Of Gases (s01e02) (ABC3 Channel)

Fundamentally, chemistry is the science of interacting particles. This unit covers the properties of solids, liquids, and gases in terms of the behaviour of invisible particles of matter that interact at the atomic scale. [Classified G]

Science | Gases | Chemistry| Experiments | Atoms | Matter | Primary

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Tuesday


 

Years of Living Dangerously – Uprising (s02e08) (National Geographic Channel)

America Ferrera meets activists in the US trying to shut down coal plants, while Sigourney Weaver investigates the impact that China’s pollution is having on the global environment. [Classified M]

News & Documentaries | People & Culture | Environmental Studies | Science | Climate Change | Global Warming | STEM | Secondary

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The House With Annabel Crabb (s01e04) (ABC1 Channel)

Annabel steps into the intoxicating world of the Senate, presided over by Senate President Stephen Parry (a former cop and undertaker) and his Clerk Rosemary Laing, an expert in 17th-century British poetry. [Classified G]

News & Documentaries |Politics | Canberra | Australia | Australian History | Secondary

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Soup Cans & Superstars (Arts Channel)

Alastair Sooke champions pop art as one of the most important art forms of the 20th-century, peeling back pops frothy, ironic surface to reveal an art style full of subversive wit and radical ideas. [Classified PG]

News & Documentaries | People & Culture | Arts | Secondary | Creativity

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Catalyst – Closing In, The Hunt For Alien Life (ABC1 Channel)

Will we soon find evidence of alien life? Scientists are currently in the throes of an unprecedented search for ET – and an answer to this long-pondered question may come sooner than you think. [Classified G]

News & Documentaries |Science| Technologies | STEM| Space Science | Secondary

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The Truth Behind – King Arthur (s01e05) (National Geographic Channel)

Camelot. The Round Table. Excalibur. Are these stories historical fact or ancient fiction? Experts debunk the tale of King Arthur, one of the world’s most popular and enduring legends. [Classified PG]

News & Documentaries | History | Iconic People| Secondary

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The Handmaid’s Tale – Late (s01e03) (SBS Channel)

Offred visits Janine’s baby with Serena Joy and remembers the early days of the revolution before Gilead. Ofglen faces a difficult challenge. [Classified MA15+]

Drama |TV Series| Literature| Acting | Secondary

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Dr Karl’s Outrageous Acts of Science (s01e10) (Discovery Channel)

Dr Karl Kruszelnicki uncovers the principles behind some mind-boggling experiments, extraordinary inventions and jaw dropping scientific stunts. [Classified PG]

| News & Documentaries | Science & Technology | Physics | Chemistry | STEM | Secondary

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Wednesday


 

Starting Up, Starting Over (s01e04) (Lifestyle Channel)

Hani and Sarah are turning their backs on their comfortable suburban lives in South West London. The couple and their two young children move 100 miles up to the Malvern Hills. They are putting all their life savings into building their own Brewery to sell their own beer with no previous experience in the industry between them. [Classified PG]

Entertainment | Lifestyle & Documentaries | Jobs | Careers | Work Studies | Small Business | Business Studies | Marketing | Start Up | Secondary

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Land Speed Heroes (s01e01) (Discovery Turbo Channel)

Get set for an action-packed hour as professional and amateur speed freaks try to set land speed records on Utah’s famous Bonneville Salt Flats. From hot rod-racing soccer mums to jaw-dropping streamliners and everything in between, get your kicks with these adrenaline junkies. [Classified PG]

News & Documentaries | Science & Technology | Technology | Design | Mechanics | Cars | STEM | Secondary

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Thursday


 

Enemy Of The Reich (History Channel)

In 1943, Noor Khan was recruited as a covert operative into Churchill’s Special Operations. Khan became the only radio operator linking the British to the French Resistance, co-ordinating the airdrop of weapons and rescue of agents. [Classified M]

News & Documentaries | History | Secondary

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Rachel Hunter’s Tour Of Beauty – Hawaii (s02e05) (Lifestyle YOU Channel)

In Hawaii, Rachel learns that the Hawaiian secrets to health and beauty are intrinsically connected to nature. Oils, scrubs and flowers provide that Hawaiian glow. [Classified PG]

Entertainment | Lifestyle & Documentaries | Cultural Understanding | Mental Health | Health and PE | Self-Esteem | Self Care | Secondary

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Friday


 

Brain Games – Animal Vs Human (s04e16) (National Geographic Channel)

It’s going to be heads versus tails as we pit humans against animals in a series of unique competitions. If you play along, you’ll find out how a bird can eat like a horse and how a chimp can make you look like a chump. [Classified PG]

News & Documentaries | Science & Technology | Science | Human Brain | The Human Body | Psychology | Secondary | Upper Primary

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Graceful Girls (Arts Channel)

Primary school teacher Brianna Lee takes one last shot at fulfilling her lifelong dream, of winning Calisthenics’ most prestigious title, ‘Most Graceful Girl’. [Classified PG]

News & Documentaries | People & Culture | Arts | Performance Arts | Sports Training | Health and PE | Secondary | Upper Primary

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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.

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The brain will get you thinking!

Newsletters, Video Highlights

TED-ED – What if we could look inside human Brains?

The brain is what makes us function, yet we understand so little about how it works. We are learning more about the brain by using new technology to monitor epilepsy patients during surgery. Moran Cerf explains the process doctors use to explore the brain further.

Click HERE to watch.

TEDTALKS – Ellen Jorgensen – Biohacking

Ellen is on the leading edge of the do-it-yourself biotech movement. Genspace in a nonprofit DIYbio lab in Brooklyn devoted to citizen science, where amateurs can go and tinker with biotechnology.

BREAKTHROUGH – MORE THAN HUMAN

Scientific advancements are challenging the concept of what it means to be human. In the near future, enhancing the human body with technology could lead to the next stage of our evolution.

Click Here to watch.

The Brain China – Season Premier

The Brain is a talent show that celebrates gifted minds and incredible skills of extraordinary men, women, and children. In each episode, seven contestants must perform mental and physical challenges that are impossible for the everyday person, such as solving a series of Rubiks Cube completely blindfolded in under five minutes.

Click Here to watch.

The Brain with Dr. David Eagleman

Six one-hour episodes that tell the story of the inner workings of the brain and take viewers on a visually spectacular journey into why they feel and think the things they do.

Click HERE to watch.

Brain Games – Life of the Brain

Jason Silva heads to the New Jersey Shore to see where your brain started as a baby where it is going as an adult and into old age.

Click HERE to watch.