Television: pick of the week
This new four-part programme encourages six to eleven-year olds to put their stories into writing. Topics such as characters and plot are dealt with in the context of particular genres - fairy story, drama - and presented with the help of authors and other personalities. A parallel series on Radio 3 (Tuesdays 3-3.20am and Fridays 3.45-4.05am) includes interactive talks and role-play. The usual support materials are available from BBC Educational Publishing, PO Box 234, Wetherby LS23 7EU.
Weather, Place and People BBC2 Thursdays, January 16-February 6, 12.10-12.30pm
A primary geography unit for this term tells seven to nine-year olds about the weather in four locations around the world: the Mediterranean, the tropics, the desert and the Arctic. Children in each place discuss the climate. This leads neatly into the English programme, Writing About the Weather, which takes over the same slot in February.
National GalleryTate Modern C4 Tuesdays, from January 14, 11.50am-12noon
Two excellent new batches of five-minute films about themes and paintings. Richard Stemp narrates in both galleries, but takes a very different approach to each. In National Gallery, the question is: what is this painting about? We start with Madonnas and goddesses, focusing on Botticelli's "Venus and Mars", a painting about love and war that may challenge conventional assumptions about strength and weakness. Later, we explore the meanings of the Arnolfini portrait, Gainsborough's "Mr and Mrs Andrews" and Holbein's "The Ambassadors". However, when we move across the river to the Tate Modern, the question is less "What is art about?", than "What is art?" Works by Picasso, Brancusi, Mondrian and Damien Hirst give plenty of material for reflection and Marcel Duchamp, the Damien Hirst of his day, is shown with "Fountain 1917" to have set the agenda for much of 20th century art.
Handmade: Laurence McGowan Paints a Pot C4 Tuesday, January 14, 10.45-10.50am
A delightful series of short films without words in which craftspeople possessing a variety of skills do something remarkable with their hands; come back for some moments of creative concentration in later weeks as Mikhail Dvornikov carves a bear, Jyoti Taglani paints a bride's hands, Amanda Bevan decorates a candle and John Gasson makes a cricket bat. Teachers could apply their own creative skills to thinking about the many ways these could be used in the classroom, as stimulus for work in English or art. More details are on the C4 website www.channel4.comsecondary
The Trouble with Boys Discovery Health Thursday, January 16, 10-11pm
The idea that girls belong to the weaker sex simply does not bear scrutiny: teenage girls achieve more at school, communicate better, seldom get in trouble with the police and are less likely to commit suicide. So what about the losers in life's race - the males? Differences in male and female brains affect the way that boys act, how they relate to their peers, to the opposite sex and to adults. This film is built around video diaries made by several members of the species, reflecting how they feel about life and the world. Comments by teachers, parents and psychologists put their experiences into a wider context.
For full schedules: www.channel4.co.uklearningmainprogrammesspring2003.cfm