Tag: programmes

‘In The Night Garden’ as a communist utopia

My son, Ben, like most toddlers, has a routine. This includes, every night before bed, watching In The Night Garden. Now before anyone accuses us of being bad parents, let me just point out that he watches the programme, then goes in the bath, is read a story, has his milk and then goes to bed. 🙂

If you haven’t seen In The Night Garden before, you really should – it’s quite an experience. Each episode is around 30 minutes long, but you can get a flavour from this YouTube video:

I’ve watched most of the episodes several times by now. We record them all as the BBC, in their infinite wisdom, have decided to screen the programme in the morning instead of during CBeebies Bedtime Hour.

The above is by way of prelude to my main point. The programme (probably intentionally) can put you into a state of not quite being awake and not quite being asleep. In that rather nice state of consciousness I got to thinking just how much like an ideal communist society it is:

  • The characters have all of their needs provided for, yet no-one is in overall control (do they ‘own the means of production’, though?)
  • There is no monetary system.
  • Men, women and children are of equal status.
  • There is no mention of, or reference to, religion – the garden just exists.
  • In the most innocent way imaginable there is ‘free love’ – in that everyone kisses everyone else.
  • Liberal parenting (in the form of the Pontipines) prevails.

Whilst I’m sure the group who conceived and produced the show aren’t raging communists, it does make you think of the values being explicitly and implicitly inculcated into even the youngest of children… :-p

Timelines.tv points the way to the future of learning History

Timelines.tvIn an average week I probably receive 2-3 emails asking me to review websites, products or software. One random person this week even asked if they could guest blog solely so they could advance their career! Most of these go straight in GMail’s trash folder, but one I received earlier this week was different.

I received an email from Andrew Chater, Bafta award-winning producer of seminal documentaries and History-related programmes. He’s recently launched timelines.tv, which, he believes:

…is a new and exciting on-line history resource provided free for the user…. It offers a wealth of quality TV documentary, arranged on interactive historical timelines that put you in control of your journey through the past. The content covers all aspects of British history from 1066 to the present day, arranged on three parallel timelines: social, political and national/imperial.

I have to say that I’m rather impressed by it. Not only does it help visitors gain a handle on chronology, but introduces themes to enable them to get a grip on how concepts such as ‘leadership’ have changed through time.

Perhaps the best way to use this resource is in a 1:1 laptop situation. In fact, it would be ideal with each learner having an Asus eee each! (are you getting sick of me talking about these little marvels yet?) 😉

The size of the digital video is probably (just) big enough for viewing on an Interactive Whiteboard/projector, but I think the bitesize nature of them means that setting the watching of them for homework along with an activity is a real possibility.

I’m really looking forward to more sites like this springing up. Very well done, Andrew – and kudos for making it free to all! 😀

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