Quoting Roman philosophy to an enraged van driver might seem like the very opposite of wisdom, but Alain de Botton believes that great thinkers of the past still have something to teach us which may be of practical use in our everyday lives.
Lucius Annaeus Seneca, a Stoic, wrote a treatise on anger, which is why de Botton believes he may have the answer to road rage (let's forget for the moment that Seneca's most famous pupil was the Emperor Nero, a fact which has always cast doubt on the practical value of whatever he had to teach). Seneca argued that the cause of anger is our surprise when life fails to live up to expectations.De Botton tries this out on van driver Wayne Allingham: "What Seneca would say to Wayne is that traffic jams are neither unfair nor surprising; they are a predictable featureof life."
Equally predictable, on the evidence of this first programme, is that de Botton's study of Montaigne, Schopenhauer, and the rest will prove an enjoyable and informative introduction to the subject, perhaps confounding Seneca's assertion that "philosophy is not an occupation of a popular nature".
PHILOSOPHY: a guide to happiness. Channel 4. Sunday March 26, 7-7.30pm
These five new programmes for KS1 deal in turn with five of the world's great faiths: Hinduism (water), Islam (moon), Judaism (candle), Buddhism (tree) and Sikhism (sword). Built around the experience of a child being brought up in the faith, each programme includes a story cnnected with it and explains one of its rituals. There is also an activity book with suggestions for additional work and photocopiable pages.
Stop, Look, Listen: Water, Moon, Candle, Treeand Sword. Channel 4. Tuesdays, repeated Fridays29 February to March 31 9.45-10am
BEST OF THE REST
After the collapse of the Ceausescu regime in 1990, some 600 Romanian children were adopted by British couples. Ceausescu's encour-agement of large families had produced a large population of unwanted children who were packed into state orphanages where they suffered the most appalling neglect, often being tied to their cots and left entirely without human contact.
The circumstances of these adoptions has formed the basis for a unique survey to analyse the effects of deprivation in early childhood. This moving film tells the story of three couples who are part of that survey, while also commenting on what they have learned from the experience. The outcomes have been very different: in the best case, two adopted children are growing up apparently well-adjusted (though with some learning difficulties); in the worst, there are severe behavioural problems.
There is nothing surprising in the interim conclusion of the study:that deprivation in the early years leads to behaviour and learning problems which vary in severity according to the extent of the deprivation - and that the damage is only partially reversible.
The Forgotten Children
BBC1 March 28, 10-10.50pm