How to Make the Most of Television Documentaries

TV Programmes can Inform and Entertain but what is Remembered Later

There is so much media available these days that it is often easy to just flit between different programmes all the time. Although this might be entertaining, when it comes to television documentaries that have an interesting subject, it can be beneficial to record or download the programme if knowledge retention is at least part of the reason for viewing. As Barry Gordon, M.D., Ph.D. stated on the magazine website: ‘Sometimes the best way to remember something is not to have to remember it at all. If you can, write it down! The worst pen is still better than the best memory. Also, the simple act of writing something down helps engrave it in your memory, and having it written down will also boost your confidence. So when you write something down, you may find you remember it perfectly, and never have to look at your note!’

The Pros and Cons of Digital Age Media for the Television Documentary Viewer

As argued in How to Learn from Television in the Digital Age, the phenomenal advances in media technology over the last couple of decades have provided fantastic opportunities for the consumer.

However, as set out in the introductory paragraph, this can also lead to attention deficits, as competing programmes and mediums lead the viewer to miss some of an interesting television documentary.

Even if attention is maintained for the whole of the programme, a viewer must ask themselves: how much will be remembered the next week or month?

Record or Download Interesting Documentaries

The first action that a viewer can take to increase their potential capacity for memory retention is to tape or download the programme.

Of course, the technology to tape television programmes has been available for decades, but with digital boxes it is now possible to conveniently record straight onto your television, and even capture a whole series with one click of a button.

This means that you can always watch a television documentary to refresh your memory, and improve knowledge retention.

If evidence of the power of repeated viewing is needed, think of the people who know all the gags from Fawlty Towers or Friends: they are unlikely to have only watched each episode once!

Take Notes from Television Documentaries

Of course, watching the same documentary programme over and over again might become a little tedious after a while, no matter how interesting it is.

So, as Barry Gordon, M.D., Ph.D. has advised, maybe it is better to take notes of the most interesting information, and then follow it up on the Internet or in books.

Whether you are interested in animal biology, space physics or human history, television documentaries could be the first step on the road to becoming an expert.

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