Sunday, April 10, 2011

TV Alert: "Human Planet" on Discovery Channel

The Discover Channel has what appears to be a human version of their incredible Life series called, "Human Planet."  Granted, it may be more for a Sociology course, but what humans do and how they do has always fascinated me (I was fortunate enough to teach sociology for 14 of my teaching years).

The site describes the series as:
Human Planet is a majestic portrait of people's incredible ability to survive and thrive in our planet's most extreme environments. From oceans to jungles to deserts, Human Planet tells the story of the complex, profound and sometimes challenging relationship between humankind and nature.
In terms of usage, one could take clips of the show and examine problem-solving--seeing how different cultures, faced with challenging survival tasks, adapt to their environment and make it work for their group.  One could also use the series to examine value systems of groups, examining how the circumstances of nature "force" groups into particular kinds of beliefs, valuing more that which is necessary, but rare in the region.  Teachers could also use clips to gauge student reactions, showing how the students exhibit ethnocentrism, a personal-culture bias.  I have used "Body Ritual Among the Nacirema" to great effect over the years for a more academic, word-based version of the experience.

In perusing the photos, I ran across one of my favorite groups, the Woodabe.  From the caption:
A painted Wodaabe dancer wears his brightest smile at a courtship dance in Niger, west Africa. Called the Gerewol, it's one of the most extraordinary gatherings of fertility and flirtation in world. Three winners will be chosen out of dozens of male competitors, and each will win a new lover — even someone else's wife. The Gerewol is signaled by the coming of the desert rains.

I'm looking forward to the series in all its high-definition glory.  The six-part series begins tonight--see local listings for details.

posted by Chuck Schallhorn

1 comment:

Chuck Schallhorn said...

Just watched the first episode on rivers/water. Truly stunning, amazing, breathtaking.