I read an article a while back about binge-watching and googling for more info. And the holidays provided a tempting opportunity for me to do my own binge-watching. Subsequently, this led me to reflect on the art of binge-watching and education.
What is binge-watching?
Seriously? Okay, for the uninformed, binge-watching is that wonderful bad habit made possible by entire seasons of television series being available on streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime. One can watch one episode after another from the beginning (if available) up to and sometimes including the current season. It can also apply to movie series. Such as Star Wars, The Avengers (and related Marvel movies), The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, etc.
How is this an art?
Well, the art is to incorporate it into your educational plan. To practice the art of binge-watching and education, first, you need to determine the educational value of the series you intend to binge-watch. Secondly, is it age-appropriate for your students? What other resources do you have in addition to enhance the educational opportunity? Finally, where does it fit in your curriculum (what subjects can it satisfy)?
The Crown – spans the years of Queen Elizabeth II of England, from her childhood through, eventually, the present. Many events and issues I was never aware of are featured in this Netflix original series. It has given me a whole new perspective and insight into who these royals are. Episodes of The Crown often cover numerous subjects. For instance: History – several wars, over 70 years of events. Likewise: Science – space program, mine collapses, sooty fog in London. Math – economics, budgeting (such as the episode about Prince Philip having to downsize).
Anne With an E – based on the book Anne of Green Gables. Set in Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia, Canada. Time period pre-war and WWII, approximately 1930s-40s. Literature. History – Issues with orphans and child protection, child labor. Geography. Science – farming, medicine.
The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings – Literature. Creative Writing. Languages. World Building. Prejudice and discrimination. Science – metalworking – how are swords and armor made? Botany – what wild plants in your area are safe to eat, useable for medicine?
Pirates of the Caribbean – Geography, Sailing, and History. What were pirates really like? Time period – 1600-1700s. East India Company – benefits, corruption, slavery. Capital punishment. Prisons.
Ken Burns Civil War – History, Geography, and Science – the evolution of firearms and explosives. Slavery.
Of course, discussion is probably the best and most economical resource for using movies and tv shows for education. Discussion can easily digress into different paths than originally intended. This is okay, but I suggest coming up with a list of 3 or 4 primary topics for discussion, such as the ideas above, and try to cover those first before indulging in flights of fancy. Also, decide where each movie/episode/topic of discussion is going to fit within your curriculum (ideas above).
- Newspaper – paper or online
- Related books
- Related science/math projects
- Cooking – making foods from the movie/time period/country
The possibilities are endless to practice the art of binge-watching and education. Variations will depend on you and your students. You can spend lots of money but you can also pull it all together for free. However you decide to do it, the art of binge-watching and education can add fun and excitement to your school day. Give it a try and see what you think.
Meanwhile, for more homeschooling ideas check out my book The Working Parent’s Guide to Homeschooling. Now in its Second Edition.