I'll come up with something in a minute.

You know… for kids

I’ve been working on a list for Holly, or rather for her sister and nephew. Her nephew is supposed to be quite bright, but is bored in school. Had she not told me this while I was driving it would have lead me to running around with my arms flailing screaming “Danger Will Robinson! DANGER!” because I happen to know how it feels to be bored in class and hate school as a result. Most my problems in school revolved around the glacial pace that classes were required to go so that we didn’t loose the kid who could be outsmarted by Skippy the Wonder Hamster.

So I said I would suggest some documentaries that might brighten the kid up a bit to the idea that learning doesn’t actually have to suck. Now I’ve got to convince her to go directly to her sister because she had a conversation with her mother and her mother said that they’d thought of a couple things but thought it might be too advanced for him. Again, if I hadn’t been driving, I would have tested the structural integrity of the nearest solid object with my forehead while screaming “Grandparents are all fucking STUPID! They don’t remember anything about having a child that age!”* However, as I was driving, I had to settle for merely berating her parents to her without the therapeutic head smacking.

Suggesting that something, anything, might be too advanced for any kind of kid is the kiss of death. Once you’ve decided that it’s too advanced without trying it out on the kid first, you’re already giving up on expanding their horizons. Some of it should be too advanced and there should be stuff they don’t understand. Not understanding is how we’re encouraged to learn.

I decided to write the following list, based mostly on things I enjoyed as a kid and the sorts of things I’m thinking a kid who is bored at school is likely to enjoy. The only reason I threw a few things away was that I figured the doco in question might be a little too slow for them. I know that I personally struggled to keep my eyes open when I watched Stephen Hawking’s Universe, so that had to go.

But then I thought of you out there. Some of you have children who need a little more speed and agility in their education, so I decided to publish my list publicly. You’ll notice a theme with my suggestions. Lots of subject movement, and nothing too terribly deep. You can get a kid excited about something, give them a wide range of ideas, and then take them to the library to learn more. Or, you can get them more documentaries. (I’m ADD, dyslexic and I’ve got a dodgy right eye, reading is very VERY hard for me)

If you can’t afford to buy all of these, you can go to your library and ask them if they can get the videos. Or you can track things down online on bit-torrent sights or you tube. Yes, yes, bit-torrent is very naughty and copyright is the word of all mighty Ceiling Cat and those who disobey shall be cast into the pits blah, blah, blah, but fuck that noise we’re talking about getting kids to learn here! Besides, you’d be amazed how many documentaries are out there that are perfectly legal to torrent. Anyway here is my list…

My List of Documentaries That Won’t Bore the Shit Out of Children.

Connections 1, 2 &3 – by James Burke A good run of science history lessons. The format of the show means that things keep moving and you never really get a chance to get bored. Having it on DVD means you can go back and re-watch something if you missed it.

Cosmos – by Carl Sagan More general science, but packaged in a very nice way. Still 98% up to date too.

A History of Britain – by Simon Schama English history on a rocket sled. Again, the emphasis here is on speedy explanations and then getting on with things. Avoid boredom while actually teaching something.

BBC Shows
Any of the “Walking With” Prehistory Shows – Because Prehistoric animals are F’ing cool damnit! The complete Walking With Collection, doesn’t actually have Walking with Monsters in it, but that’s only because of when it came out. Chased By Dinosaurs is really cool too.

Planet Earth & Blue Planet – Animals! Fairly fast paced, but slightly tilted towards images. Good stuff to get a kid going though and if it’s new to them there will be a wealth of information.

Rome: Power & Glory – Roman history is cool. This goes from rise to fall, it doesn’t get boring, and there are probably some things mother wouldn’t approve of but are really quite harmless in it. Perfect for a 10 year old on all counts, because you need to learn some things mother wouldn’t approve of when you’re ten.

BBC’s History of World War II Set – I’m slightly hesitant on this one because there are some bits that could bore a kid. It’s a collection of docos, so you can pick and choose. Maybe The History Channel’s version, being slight more light weight and a little faster in places, might be a better choice. The point is, get the kids some stuff about war. War is good because wars move history along at a fast pace. I’ve suggested in the past that wars are mostly there so that kids can go manage to get through all the philosophers and stuff, with the promise that there will be blood to come. When I was a kid, I could listen to a teacher talk about Abolitionism all day if I know the battle of Gettysburg was coming as my reward. That’s the best thing about History Class! Eventually… there WILL be blood!

*My apologies to any of you who either are or have grandparents, but it’s true. I spent most my childhood having my father tell people to shut the fuck up and let me read/watch what I wanted because if I was enjoying it then I probably understood it. I was very fortunate that my parents shielded me from people telling me that the books I was reading or the movies I was watching were too advanced for me.

And yes, all the profanity is totally necessary.

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May 13, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment