Daniel Butcher: Sociology

I’ve found it a bit difficult to evaluate the films produced by Sociology Teacher Daniel Butcher, for reasons that should become apparent, so I’m going to depart slightly from the usual blog format and just try to list some of the pluses and minuses.

This is partly because I’m a little ambivalent about whether it’s worth featuring the Channel at all – again for reasons that will become clear – and partly because there’s around 150 films (give-or-take – I may have lost count) to plough through.

Which I didn’t do.

Obviously.

I just skimmed some of them or, if you prefer, I sampled them.

Non-representatively probably.

On the plus side…

The films are aimed at OCR students, which makes a pleasant change from all the AQA-centric stuff that’s around.

They walk students through how to answer specific exam questions of varying length.

Most of the films are short, between 4 – 10 minutes, although a few are much longer. One covering changes in the class structure, for example, is over 30 minutes – probably too-long for this type of exercise.

A range of topics – Research Methods, Education, Crime, Inequality and Religion – are covered.

Mr. Butcher has quite a pleasant voice and delivery.

It’s instructive to see how classroom technology has evolved over the past 10 years – from bog-standard whiteboard-and-marker-pen to swish New Tech boards with computer graphics – without any accompanying change in teaching style.

It’s quite interesting – and possibly instructive – to see someone age before one’s very eyes. Quite literally.

On the debit side…

This is starting to look like a ghost site. There’s been no activity for the past 8 months so, technically, it’s still active. Just.

The films were produced over a 10-year period and the OCR Spec and Exam structure has changed somewhat over that time. Where the films are tied to answering historic exam questions they may be a little outdated when it comes to questions in later exams.

Although Mr Butcher doesn’t have the world’s worst delivery, when all’s-said-and-done it’s still just some bloke with a beard and a whiteboard talking at you. I don’t know whether the order in which I’ve written that is significant.

The filming leaves a lot – and believe me, I mean A LOT, to be desired. For some reason the lectures are mainly filmed from what looks like ankle level. This is not only somewhat disorientating but it makes reading the whiteboard very difficult.

Some of the lectures were filmed during lockdown. In what looks like Mr Butcher’s kitchen. With some sort of tea tray serving as a whiteboard. While he gets full-marks for effort, this is a somewhat less-than-ideal way to teach.

The information is delivered without a script and while this gives each lecture a more-natural feel it does mean there’s an awful lot of umming-and-ahhing and the lack of clear structure sometimes makes things difficult to follow.

The films are mixed-up with other films featuring Mr Butcher playing guitar and singing (mostly) cover-versions of reasonably-well-known songs. This will not be to everyone’s taste.

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