TV and radio
The new term opens with several programmes about Scotland for primary environmental studies. This week, See You See Me has a three-part unit for seven to nine-year-olds on the Central Lowlands (BBC2, January 10, 10.30-11.30am), following on from the earlier unit on the Highlands and islands, describing the main physical features of the region and their impact on patterns of settlement. Later in the term there is a unit on Citizenship, focusing on law and order in a Scottish context (BBC2, January 24, 10.30-11.10am) and another called Scotland in the 1960s (BBC2, January 31, 10.30-11.30am) - the years of the swinging sporran; both units are for older primary school pupils.
For secondary schools this month, Channel Four is continuing its excellent policy of showing the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures (C4, January 10-12, 11am-12noon). This year, for the first time, the talks leave the confines of the lecture room and take us to Antarctica: a place that is dry, windy and very cold. This is a series that might well inspire future explorers.
Towards the end of this month, BBC Schools has a new series for teenagers, Young Foresight (BBC2, January 27, 4-6am), consisting of two three-part units on radioactivity and health. At the same time, 14 to 19-year-olds who enjoyed Celebrity Come Dancing may be interested in C4's Rough Guide to Choreographers (January 26-27, 10.40-11.05am; January 28, 11.05-11.55).
In February, C4 indulges in what could be self-criticism with a programme for English and Media Studies called Why Is There So Much Rubbish on Telly? (February 4, 9.30-11.30). That question leads on to a lot of others (why are there so many gardening shows, so much football and so many things "from hell"?). You can see where we're going: towards an explanation of how television is made, how programmes are scheduled and who makes the crucial decisions.
When not watching telly, C4 is much preoccupied by spotty teenagers: what makes them so aggressive - or not, in some cases. New Boy (C4, February 7, 10.05-11.05am) sends three shy, insecure young men to motivational performance coach Kate Marlow and asks her to return them confident and self-assured - but to stop short, we hope, of those other lads who feature in the same week in Children Behaving Badly (February 8-9, 10.25-10.50am) or later in the month as Teens on Trial (C4, February 21-25, 9.30-10am).
Here, a group of teenagers are allowed to judge their anti-social peers, in their own courtroom, under the guidance of an adult lawyer.
In March, C4 has a promising new one-off documentary called London, the Greatest City (March 14, 9.30-11.10am), tracing the history of the capital from Roman times to the present day through various forms of visual reconstruction.
For primary schools, there is also a wealth of new material on Schools Radio, mainly consisting of invitations to leap around and shake it all about. This week, look out for Hop, Skip and Jump (Radio 4, Tuesdays from January 11, 3.55-4.10am), Let's Move (Radio 4, Wednesdays from January 12, 3.15-3.35am) and Dance Workshop (Radio 4, Fridays from January 14, 4.20-4.40am), which has a unit on the Roman invaders; the legions will dance till they drop. And you'll hear more from me about all these programmes in the course of the term.
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