Robin Buss's pick of the week
TV Programme = Teen Life: Rude Britannia
C4, Monday-Friday October 18-22, 9.30-10am; November 29-December 3, 10.35-11.05am
A village in Staffordshire turns out to be the country's black spot for hooliganism, if one is to judge by the number of anti-social behaviour orders issued to its teenagers.
Ben's Story is about one young man whose friends have all had ASBOs slapped on them for offences that include swearing, spitting and throwing chairs on garage roofs. In fact, when most of his peer group is under close daily surveillance by police and homeowners with video cameras (all of whom are just waiting for them to commit further misdemeanours), well-behaved Ben is the one who is starting to feel socially excluded.
Tough on crime? It doesn't take much investigation here to find the cause of misbehaviour: there is nothing in the village for young people to do, except to invent their own amusement. So, when the kids start to build a little dam across a stream, the authorities are alerted and council workers arrive by the lorryload to remove the stones...
Rude Britannia, Channel 4's citizenship and PSHE series for 14 to 19-year-olds, takes the young person's view on social and generational conflict. Benji, in the first programme, is a young black rapper who finds that wearing a hood is seen as threatening and that describing his music as "garage" is the best way not to get bookings in local clubs: labels and stereotypes play a large part in explaining society's reaction to these young people. So why do some continue to give out the "wrong" signals? The 10 programmes look at a variety of situations and provide lots of material for reflection and discussion.
Britain 1500-1750 BBC2, Wednesday October 20, 3-4am
These four 15-minute films focus on the Pilgrim Fathers, Cromwell, the Pitchfork Rebellion and changes in the monarchy. They are preceded by an hour-long film on how the pioneers of photo-journalism recorded events in the first part of the 20th century, and followed by an account of the effects of industrialisation on society. All these are designed to give 11 to 14-years-olds a good overview of our island story since the Middle Ages.
On the following night, we move to Europe for those specialist GCSE topics on the First World War and Nazi Germany, and, on Friday, history week ends with the Cold War and Soviet Russia.
Brief History of Disbelief BBC4 Mondays October 18 and 25, 9.30-10.30pm
Jonathan Miller mixes the personal and the historical in this survey of dissent from orthodox religious belief, which centred last week on scepticism in Greek and Roman philosophy (while still finding time for an excursion to the north London synagogue where the young Miller himself failed to subscribe to the faith of Judaism). Religious education should clearly include consideration of disbelief and agnosticism; so, in an area where teaching materials are signally lacking, this series will provide a stimulating introduction for older pupils.
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