Recently, whilst reading an interview with Alton Brown (nerd-host of Good Eats on the Food Network), I was struck by a comment he made about his youth.
Although he's now famous for his scientific approach to cooking, Brown said that he was a terrible student, primarily because none of the material seemed to relate to real life.
Although I wasn't a terrible student myself, I can relate to his feelings and this triggered a memory of a PBS show which ran in 1979 that made a lasting impression on me.
Called Connections, I thought then- and still do- that this was the most perfect melding of education and TV possible.
With a little effort, I found the original 10 episodes on the net.Connections was a ten-episode documentary television series created and narrated by science historian James Burke. The series was produced and directed by Mick Jackson of the BBC Science & Features Department and first aired in 1978. It took an interdisciplinary approach to the history of science and invention and demonstrates how various discoveries, scientific achievements, and historical world events built off one another in an interconnected way to bring about particular aspects of modern technology. The series is well-known for Burke's impeccable narration (especially its dry humour), historical reenactments, intricate working models, skillful use of classical music (most notably Fortuna Imperatrix Mundi, or "O Fortuna" from Carmina Burana), and shots on location as far afield as Penang (Malaysia). The popular success of the series led to two sequels, Connections≤ in 1994, and Connections≥ in 1997, both produced for TLC.
Although the small format is a drag the quality is pretty good and rewatching them has only reconfirmed my opinion that Burke's series is the epitome of how science and history can be taught.
To the few of you who will expend the time to watch...enjoy.