Re­nais­sance Ed­u­ca­tion

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Television -

Mon­day, 8.30pm, His­tory Early one morn­ing in Au­gust 1535, a young woman rowed down the Thames River to re­trieve a head left rot­ting on a pole on Lon­don Bridge. It was a highly risky thing to do, but Mar­garet More was de­ter­mined to res­cue the re­mains of her fa­ther, the great­est in­tel­lec­tual of Tu­dor Eng­land — Thomas More. Found guilty of trea­son by Henry VIII, More is one of the great­est names in Bri­tish his­tory but Mar­garet, his el­der daugh­ter, was also ex­tra­or­di­nary. Grow­ing up in a home filled with in­tel­lec­tual stim­u­lus, she be­gan to read at the age of three; her first book was Ae­sop’s Fa­bles. She went on to change the his­tory of ed­u­ca­tion and the cul­tural life of a na­tion by en­cour­ag­ing a sys­tem that re­flected real hu­man ex­pe­ri­ence through the classics, po­etry, his­tory and lan­guages. Boys and girls of all so­cial ranks be­gan go­ing to school. This fas­ci­nat­ing BBC pro­duc­tion is nar­rated by Cam­bridge Univer­sity lec­turer Helen Cas­tor. mar­ried six times he’d have been a good judge. That aside, the Pulitzer prize-win­ning author, who died aged 84 in 2007, led the kind of amaz­ing life that pro­vides any pro­gram maker with a wealth of ma­te­rial to work with. For starters, he was only 16 when he went to Har­vard Univer­sity to study aero­nau­ti­cal en­gi­neer­ing. Af­ter grad­u­at­ing in 1943, he joined the US Army and served in The Philip­pines — as a cook. The ex­pe­ri­ence in­spired the novel The Naked and the Dead. Dur­ing his life­time he wrote more than 60 books, many of them con­tro­ver­sial, such as his 1973 bi­og­ra­phy of Mar­i­lyn Mon­roe who he reck­oned was mur­dered by FBI and CIA agents. He also found time to fa­ther eight chil­dren. This won­der­ful doc­u­men­tary, di­rected by Joseph Man­tegna, fea­tures fresh archival footage and in­ter­views with the peo­ple who knew this work­ing-class hero best, in­clud­ing Muhammad Ali.

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