If our teens' thinking isn't challenged as they grow up, they will start to believe that they know everything. It happens all the time. When you've done a great job layering in the lessons over the years, the familiarity of what you're teaching can desensitize your student to further research. Black and white versions of historical events, scientific breakthroughs, or technological advancements can blind a teen. They don't look for the author's bias or compare multiple accounts. It's just simply how things work.
When they eventually leave home, their thinking will be challenged by peers and professors. If they haven't stretched their minds to think about the possibilities of a scenario, their world could be rocked when someone offers a different perspective. There are some fascinating films on Netflix that can start challenging your student's thinking and spark some wonderful conversations while they are still in the safe cocoon of your influence. Enjoy these ten documentaries with your teen.
1. Mystery Files: Leonardo da Vinci
TV-PG, 23 min
This fascinating documentary attempts to break the myth that Leonardo invented the first tanks, flying machines, and underwater breathing devices. This show sparks several interesting ideas:
Curiosity is key. Leonardo was a lifelong learner.
No one learns in a vacuum. His journals reveal notes from many collaborations with other great minds throughout his lifetime.
Write ideas down. One of the reasons that da Vinci gets so much credit for inventions is that he was a meticulous note taker. He journaled all of his thoughts, calculations, and discoveries.
2. Tales By Light
TV-PG, 6 episodes, 23 min
In this Netflix Original series, viewers travel to exotic locations to follow photographers as they capture stunning photos of incredible locations, animals, and events. Learning opportunities through this series include:
Innovation is still possible. To the modern student, it can seem like everything has been done under the sun. These artists show how they approach an idea that has been done before in a new and beautiful way.
Photography is powerful. We live in a visual society. Learning how to capture an image from a different perspective can be a powerful communication tool in the future.
3. Print the Legend
TV-14 (for language), 99 min
This compelling documentary follows the rise and fall of several 3D printing companies. Growing up in the age of technology, teens don't know a world without a personal computer. This film raises some excellent topics for discussion:
Starting a business can be both rewarding and challenging. This documentary attempts to share a behind the scenes glimpse of starting your own business.
Technology can be good and bad. As you follow the timeline of developing personal 3D printer technology, you also meet a man who wants to make printing weapons a reality. There are some fascinating questions about anarchy, civil liberties, and freedom rights that emerge.
4. Secrets: A Viking Map?
TV-PG, 46 min
This Smithsonian presentation walks viewers through the process of validating historical documents and the implications of new discoveries. The Vinland map places the Vikings in North America over 50 years before Columbus. However, the question of it's authenticity arises. Documentary takeaways:
History is puzzling. There is always more than one perspective, and you have to constantly seek out the truth.
Forgeries can be convincing. Forensic science can be applied to historical documents to validate their authenticity.
5. The Story of Maths
TV-G, 4 Episodes, 58 min
This British documentary walks viewers through the history of math. As the story is unfolding, the mathematical operations are demonstrated in creative ways. Takeaways from this video series include:
Appreciating math from a historical perspective. When you integrate subjects of learning, connections to the thinking behind the math start to emerge.
6. The Secret Rules of Modern Living: Algorithm
TV-G, 58 min
Continuing with the math theme, this educational production introduces viewers to the operations behind math. With creative demonstrations, students see the mystery of algorithms unlocked before their very eyes. Why this is worth watching:
Encourage a love of math as students get older. This documentary does a great job of fostering fascination.
7. India's Lost Worlds
TV-PG, 3 Episodes, 52 min
Travel to remote locations in one of the world's most beautiful destinations. It's so easy for teens to get stuck in a limited perspective of the world. Series takeaways may include:
Even though travel may not be possible for your family, documentaries like this offer glimpses into this fascinating culture.
Visualize Richard Kipling's settings for The Jungle Book and Just So, Stories.
8. Planet Earth
TV-PG, 11 Episodes, 49 min
When this series first came out, I loved watching the incredible videography of never-before seen locations and events. They've made a sequel to this series, which premiers in 2017.
Watching a series like this is equivalent to reading a great book on biomes.
9. Nature's Weirdest Events
TV-PG, 2 Episodes, 52 min
If you have a teen that has an affinity for the bizarre, they will love these strange events that have happened around the globe. This series is not for the faint of heart. There are some truly disgusting images, however, that is what makes this series perfect for teens. Series takeaways:
The shocking nature of these events in nature provide an opportunity to show teens that they've not experienced everything life has to offer.
The explanation of the events proves the science behind the occurrences.
10. Moving Art
TV-G, 25 min
While these videos don't have any narration, their peaceful and calming beauty can be a great opportunity for a brain break. With several different areas of focus, these short productions will inspire your student by the beauty in nature. Here are some topics in the series:
It can be challenging to continue to inspire your teens to broaden their horizons. Carving out some time to sit down and watch a good documentary can be an excellent way to fuel their curiosity and propel them to the next level of learning. The next time your teen thinks they have the world figured out, hop on Netflix for some educational entertainment and worldview expansion.