Tag Archives: BBC

School’s Out by Alice Cooper – Welcome to Summer Vacation

School officially lets out for me tomorrow, and it couldn’t come fast enough.  Here’s a great classic from Alice Cooper, as performed in 1972 for the BBC’s Top of the Pops program.

If you’re a teacher, a student, a parent…even a principal…this song never gets old.

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Videos for the Classroom: A Day in the Life…from BBC History

As we here at the Neighborhood sit patiently while Governor Cuomo calls us for an interview, I found this cool series of videos.

In my year teaching ancient history, the BBC has been a veritable lifeline, along with National Geographic, Discovery Channel and PBS.  BBC’s History site is particularly instructive, in that it includes games, projects, lessons and dense (REALLY dense) readings on many important aspects of history–mostly from a British perspective, obviously, but it works.

“A Day in the Life…” is a series of short videos about a kid’s point of view through British history.  Since Ancient Rome is on the menu to end the year, I’ve included the life of Roman kid in Roman Britain.  It isn’t entirely accurate, but it is fun, and cool to share with kids for a laugh.

You can go to BBC History for this and other videos.

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Videos for the Classroom: What the Ancient Greeks Did for Us

Since I work double-duty as a social studies AND science teacher, I’m always looking for ways to combine the two…sometimes out of piquing interest, often out of laziness.

Today’s offering is just plain fun.

I’ve seen various episodes of this BBC series over the years.  What the Ancients Did for Us is a 2005 series on  BBC that detailed the accomplishments of various ancient societies and their impact on our lives today.  It was derived from earlier shows that looked at contributions from earlier periods of British history, such as the Tudor period, the Stuart era or the Industrial Revolution.

Yet this is no ordinary history documentary.  Ancients was produced in conjunction with the Open University, the largest British university by student enrollment and a pioneer in distance learning.  As such, it not only provides information on the civilization (names, dates, and whatnot) but also practical demonstrations of the kind of technology used at that time period–often with amazing results.

I’ve attached the episode on the Ancient Greeks, as this is the next unit we will be studying in my class.  I’ve already previewed the film to a few students of mine, and they all saw the experiments (from Archimedes’ screw to Hero’s steam Jet engine) as great ideas for science fair projects.  One even wanted to try out Archimedes’ famed “Death Ray” – the mirrored weapon used to angle the sun’s thermal energy towards wooden galleys with devastating results.

I’m not sure that will fly with the principal (nor the fire chief) but the series is a great connection between science and history.

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Movies for the Classroom: Culloden (1964)

Recently, as I was packing for the Save Our Schools March this weekend, I ran into some clips of a film I haven’t seen in many years.

Looking at it now, the film still shocks and absorbs me, especially since it was decades ahead of its time.

In 1964, the BBC released a film on British television stations by director Peter Watkins. Culloden was a film about the 1746 Battle of Culloden Moor between the British Army and the rebel forces of the Young Pretender Bonnie Prince Charlie. It was the culmination of the Second Jacobite Rebellion, an attempt by Scots and other Britons to depose the German-born king of Great Britain and re-install the Stuart royal family of Scotland.

Yet what makes Culloden so prescient is not the subject material—it is the film itself.

Watkins shot Culloden as a drama-documentary, interviewing the characters (officers, soldiers, and local people) as if they were on a 20th century TV special. His narration, unlike many earlier depictions of the battle, is remarkably newslike and spares no detail no matter how gory or disturbing.

Finally, the grim, horrific nature of war, and of war atrocities, is brought into terrible focus—even through the grainy black-and-white lens of 1960s television. It was created as a window on the then-emerging Vietnam conflict (take a guess which side is which) and the acting seems hokey at times.

But look closely: even among today’s viewers, Culloden can still shock and create furious debate about war, violence, class division, patriotism, and a whole host of social conflicts, just as it did in 1964.

Attached are three excerpts from the film. The entire film is not available streaming, but Amazon has a double-feature DVD of both Culloden and Watkins’ 1965 masterpiece The War Game, a film about nuclear war so intense the BBC wouldn’t show it in full for 20 years.

 

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Videos for the Classroom: BBC’s The Battle of Midway

Yesterday was the anniversary of the US Navy, a fact I had forgotten but was reminded by a newcomer to the Neighborhood.  Tony runs Adventures in History, a cornucopia of websites, images and information for the history enthusiast.  Please take a look, and tell Tony that Mr. D sent you!

In honor of the Navy’s birthday, I’m attaching the BBC documentary about the 1942 Battle of Midway.  It’s in six parts, so be patient.  A great overall view of the battle, and one of our navy’s greatest battles.  Enjoy.

BTW, There’s still time for your entry for “History’s Greatest Asshole.”  Submissions are coming in, but we still need more!  Get them in by next Friday!

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Spoofing History: BBC Spoof of Simon Schama

Like many history buffs, I’m a sucker for documentaries.  I may even be the only idiot to actually purchase them for my own video collection.  That’s why I had a riot listening to Jon Culshaw of the BBC comedy show “Dead Ringers.”  In this clip, he spoofs professor Simon Schama as he does his “A History of Britain” series based on his three books.  I was a fan of the series, but I can see through the spoof what I couldn’t before: how documentaries can often over-simplify something very complex, or even make connections that simply do not exist.

Either way, for those familiar with Schama’s work, this is too funny.  Enjoy. NOTE: The BBC is not allowing this video to be embedded.   You can click on the video to see it on another screen.

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