I don’t think television makes people stupid. It seems to me that the more people watch television, the stupider the television becomes. I hate to sound like a cranky, old man complaining about the way things are these days, but T.V. just isn’t as good as it used to be.
Self Aware Paterns recently did an interesting blog post about the Science Channel. The quality of educational television has dropped, with only a few niche channels (like the Science Channel) holding out. And even in that case, the Science Channel might be starting to slip.
I can’t really say whether I agree or disagree with Self Aware Patterns’ assessment of the Science Channel. I canceled my cable subscription several years ago, right around the time when the Discovery Channel was starting to lose my interest.
When I want to learn something about science—or any other topic—I turn to other resources than television. Such as:
- TED Talks.
- YouTube shows like Sci Show and Smarter Every Day.
- Lecture series from The Great Courses. They can get pricy, but they are definitely worth the money.
Meanwhile, it seems educational television continues to try to increase its viewership by dumbing down its programming: a trend that may apply to television in general.
So what resources do you use when you want to learn something? Are there any educational T.V. shows right now that are worth watching?
11 thoughts on “Do You Watch Educational Television?”
I’ve been turning to youtube when i need an illustration to help me visualize a difficult concept learning the keyboard. I only have basic cable and I haven’t seen anything educational on my channels.
It’s surprising how useful YouTube can be.
Obviously I do watch shows on the Science Channel. My favorites are “Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman” and “How the Universe Works”. Through the Wormhole has a slight tendency to be a little too inclusive at times (they once had a segment on intelligent design), but overall I find the show informative.
I also find “The Universe” on H2 to be pretty decent, one of the few left on the History channels (assuming it hasn’t been cancelled).
I like TED, and the Great Courses that have been released for free. Didn’t know about Sci Show. Thanks!
On Youtube, I also like MinutePhysics and the Science Asylum. The site: Fora.TV can be pretty good as well.
I’ve been watching old episodes of The Universe on Amazon instant video, and that’s proven to be a pretty good resource too.
I didn’t know there were any Great Courses out there for free. I’ll have to start hunting those down.
A 1993 study found that theres more science in Star Trek than from any other source. When Brent Spiner (Data) was asked about this, he joked ‘I always thought of myself as an educator..’
I remember arguing the same thing with one of my teachers when I was a kid. He gave the usual television rots your brain speech, and I fought back by arguing that Star Trek is educational. If only a new Star Trek series would come out…
The Science Channel (and the Discovery Channel) often find themselves producing empty fodder designed obviously to drag viewers in. But they still produce some quality content… you just have to search a little harder for it amongst the slag.
In the U.S., PBS stations are the other choice, and they are much more consistent with their science programming (it’s not their exclusive content, but all of what they have is top-notch). Nova can’t be beat.
I forgot about Nova! I don’t suppose there anyplace I can watch that online?
Amazon has them under Prime (although I think some of the episodes have an extra charge).
Whoa, sorry, didn’t realize it would embed like that.
Where else? http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/