You think culture ain't been dumbed down enough?

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You think culture ain't been dumbed down enough?

Post by Ralph » Tue May 23, 2006 2:11 pm

British Museum joins puzzle craze as host to TV gameshow

Maev Kennedy
Monday May 22, 2006

The British Museum has become the first national museum in the world to throw open its doors to a television gameshow. Codex, due next winter on Channel 4, is filmed in the galleries and Great Court, with a code-breaking finale in the Round Room, the former British Library reading room where Karl Marx and George Bernard Shaw pored over their papers.

Already TV companies and museums around the world are watching with interest. The executive producer of the series, Roy Ackerman, said yesterday: "Our dream is to move on to conquer the Louvre, the Cairo museum, the Smithsonian."

To the huge relief of the programme makers and the British Museum's director, Neil McGregor, a screening of the pilot programme for the staff proved a success.

"How shall I put this delicately?" said Patricia Wheatley, broadcast adviser to the museum. "Some of our curators and keepers, absolutely brilliant academically, don't actually have televisions at home, so they'd never seen anything like this before in their lives. But they were among the most enthusiastic."

The inspiration for the show, made by Diverse, whose recent hits include Operatunity and Musicality, came from the craze for puzzles following the success of the novel The Da Vinci Code. Each episode of the show is built around a period of history, starting with ancient Mesopotamia, and the series uses some of the museum's most famous artefacts, including the 2,700-year-old Flood Tablet, a cuneiform-inscribed clay tablet with an Assyrian version of the Old Testament story of Noah's ark.

In the Assyrian text a raven, not a dove, fails to return to the great boat built by Utnapishtim. Museum archives record that when the tablet was deciphered in 1872 by George Smith, a relatively lowly museum assistant, his reaction was startlingly Big Brotherish. "He jumped up and rushed about the room in a great state of excitement and to the astonishment of those present began to undress himself."

In each episode contestants will study real objects for clues to breaking the code.

The show was devised by Justin Scroggie, who was behind Treasure Hunt and loves museums, but the idea came from the very different reactions of Roy Ackerman, the executive producer, who claims he hated museums. "I just felt these were the junk shops of the ancient world ... this series is trying to see if we can push the buttons of an audience who couldn't normally be dragged across the threshold of a museum."

"Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former."

Albert Einstein


Post by Brendan » Wed May 24, 2006 6:02 pm

amusing, but ultimately a bit trivial when compared to the systematic eradication of anything of value in modern education (from ... 02,00.html):

Turntable music 'equal' to violins
Paige Taylor and Justine Ferrari
May 25, 2006

A DRAMA teacher who does not play a musical instrument and believes turntables and computers are musical instruments is the co-ordinator of Western Australia's new music course.

State Curriculum Council arts framework officer Christine Adams said yesterday that music-producing machines such as turntables and computers were equal to the piano or violin.

"Sales of turntables are way outstripping sales of guitars," Ms Adams said.

"In this course, the status of all instruments is equal and the turntable is one of them."

But the course for Years 11 and 12 students, revealed in The Australian yesterday, was condemned by one of Australia's leading music educators and conductors, Richard Gill, who described it as "educational double-speak and claptrap".

"It could just as easily be the curriculum for cooking as music," said Mr Gill, a former dean of the West Australian Conservatorium of Music.

To describe turntables and computers as musical instruments was "totally meaningless", he said.

"A computer is a computer and a turntable is a turntable. One of the points of education is to make the distinction."

Ms Adams, who learned the flute in high school in the 1970s, has spent the past three years working on the new music course and described it as more inclusive than the old course, which was "very Western-focused".

"For example, if there is a student from India who wants to play the tabla, they can - and they couldn't do that in the old course," she said.

Ms Adams said the new course placed an appropriate emphasis on theory. Students are required to write about politics, racism and other aspects of society that influence music in one of four subject areas called Music in Society, worth 25 per cent of the total mark.

"It's really important to know the political and cultural background to music," she said.

"It makes it a really, really rich experience."

But Mr Gill, who has received an OAM for his services to music and is recognised around the world for developing young musicians, said the course attempted to teach students how to respond to music, which was impossible.

"Reaction to music is a personal and subjective thing - you can't teach it," he said.

"The teaching of music should be about music itself. We learn to understand music by making music, by writing music, by performing music."

Mr Gill said the first four sentences of the new music course, to be introduced next year, were rubbish.

"By all means define music, but don't tell tell us the role it plays - that's up to us to determine. You can't teach the emotion of music. It's personal."

The course introduction starts: "Music plays an important part in the life of people the world over. It brings people together through a natural form of communication by providing a means of expressing ideas and emotions.

"It combines words, sounds and movements which enhance the meaning of life in world cultures. Music has unique aspects which give expression to human experiences and understandings that cross cultural and societal boundaries."

Mr Gill challenged this. "Who says? Where's the evidence for that? How do you teach that? What are the ideas communicated in I Still Call Australia Home, which is in the course, or the ideas nominated in a Beethoven symphony?"

Mr Gill said the course read like "a generic curriculum to which the word music is applied from time to time".

The course also requires students to study ethical and health and safety issues of music, and asserts that "audiences construct meaning from music according to their own values, attitudes and ideological positions".

The course has been condemned by music teachers in Western Australia, who say students are no longer required to play an instrument and that the course downgrades the importance of reading music.

State Education Minister Ljiljanna Ravlich said yesterday she was unaware students in the new course could pass without playing a musical instrument.

"That's news to me," she said.

But Ms Ravlich was not prepared to label this as unacceptable until she verified the position at a meeting with the Curriculum Council in the next day or two.


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