Okay, so it’s confession time. I really love the History Channel, and most channels like it. Think Discovery, or National Geographic. During the summer, rather than doing something “normal” like going to the beach, or grilling, you could find me nestled under a blanket sitting on the sofa watching a documentary on who really discovered America. For hours, I’d be there, mouth agape and cup of lemonade in hand.
But come on, you can’t tell me that those channels aren’t cool. Think Shark Week, a week I know people mark on their calendars. These channels have something for everyone. You can watch a documentary on the history of marijuana, or the Salem Witch Trials, and then follow it up with a WWII special.
The only problem with the History channel and its counterparts is when it finally hits you: you learn more from one hour long documentary than you ever do going to class. One story alone is assembled better than any lecture you will ever attend, without the annoying graduate student who says “um” every other word or the keeper of the crypt who keeps nodding off mid-sentence.
I spend time in some of my classes contemplating over important issues like what a piece of toast would say if it could talk, but I can’t wait for a commercial to finally end when I’m watching a special on Discovery.
Bottom line: Professors could learn a lot from these channels.
Better Visual Aids
Everyone knows that visual aids are essential to learning. That’s why when we’re forced into cruel and unusual punishment known as group projects we have to make Power Point presentations. It’s no wonder that the professor seems bored by his own lecture when one sentence on a white slide is presented. If we could somehow integrate film clips, pictures, and music, it would make lectures a lot more interesting. Some of my professors have already adopted this, somehow merging all of these together in order to illustrate the main points of lecture.
Music to set the mood
Speaking of music, how awesome would it be for professors to create a soundtrack for their lecture? I know I’d do it, if I were one. On the TV specials, the really dramatic parts are intensified by a crescendo of strings building in the background with lots of drums and the like. I don’t care what the lecture is on, I bet everyone would be paying attention to what Substance Dualism is if there was a slow buildup like that. In history, when we win a war, I want loud trumpets and a feeling of triumph. When we are reading Shakespeare, I want lutes (or…whatever)!
Morgan Freeman-esque narration
Next comes the way a professor speaks. Think of any documentary you have watched. They are almost always accompanied by a rich, baritone voice. Narrators of the TV specials could bring you to tears talking about how a pencil is made. Meanwhile, my professors almost bring me to tears sometimes because I can’t believe it took them five minutes to construct (and say) a sentence. I know we can’t all have Morgan Freeman narrate our lectures, but let’s get some sexy voices up in here!
On a serious note, though, these channels are the masters of making learning fun. Isn’t it time that professors took some tips?