Tuesday, January 5, 2016

To boldly go...

Star Trek Original Series Intro (HQ)

Damn, they made some great TV shows when I was a kid! Star Trek not only entertained us, it educated, inspired, and supported and guided us in
forming our understandings and attitudes about life and what we should do in and with it! No small feat for a low budget science fiction space drama! ...
WIKIPEDIA: "Star Trek is an American science fiction entertainment franchise created by Gene Roddenberry and owned by CBS and Paramount PicturesThe first series, now referred to as The Original Series, debuted in 1966 and ran for three seasons on NBC. It followed the interstellar adventures of James T. Kirk and the crew of the starship Enterprise, an exploration vessel of a 23rd-century interstellar "United Federation of Planets".... While its contemporaries,  show offerings like Perry Mason, Gunsmoke, and The Fugitive affected us and reinforced mainstream beliefs and values, Star Trek laid some new ground, as well. Hey, after all, as the voice over in this Intro clip states, it's mission was "... to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before!" and ironically, not only was that the writer's stated mission of the Starship Enterprise, the vessel carrying Kirk and Spock and Uhuru and the other very appealing players in this space drama, but it turned out to be the de facto mission of this series of shows, as well.

There was so much to love about this show, Spock's Vulcan logic-driven way of being, Kirk's resolve to face the unknown fearlessly, and Dr. McCoy's (Bones') resourcefulness in curing unknown and unthinkable threats to the crew's health, for instance. One thing that Impressed me (and I was still in high school when this show came out) was that in the other popular shows of the day, Mannix or Daniel Boone, for instance, it was always easy to tell the bad guys from the good guys and what the good guys should do about what the bad guys did. Watching Star Trek, though, one often had to wrestle with more challenging, loftier questions like "What is a Good Guy?" and "Who, in this episode, is the Good Guy and why?" Actually, it called on you to go even deeper, sometimes having to ponder "What is Good?and What is Bad?"

Hah, THAT was the apex of the show's plot trajectory; neither Kirk nor Spock nor McCoy was always sure of what to do, because life isn't that simple, not that black and white,  and one sometimes has to 'excruciate' over what the smart thing, the right thing to do is. Often these space heroes didn't have the wisdom to puzzle this out on their own, although they did have the courage to admit that to themselves and one another. Instead, they had to refer to their moral compass, which in this case was "The Prime Directive"
the guiding principle of the United Federation of Planets, which prohibits Starfleet personnel from interfering with the internal development of alien civilizations. In referring to this instead of simply reaching for their phasers (23rd Century handguns) and simply bulldozing their way through a conflict to a quick and easy resolution of whatever the situation of the moment was, we kids had modeled for us a truly rare phenomenon, something called CIVILIZED BEHAVIOR... and Kirk and Spock were engaging in and relying on this in between News shows playing footage of the Vietnam War. Those were some interesting days to come of age in.  


  1. I think the main thing is that they tempered even Kirk, their action with 21st century critical thinking (although the show was 20th Century) problem solving, alternative approaches and interventions. They were engaged in an ongoing mission to preserve and not to destroy various civilizations. In the 23rd Century they seemed to reflect or anticipate (since it was shot in the late 20th century) culturally resonant multicultural education, multiple intelligence approaches including intrapersonal and interpersonal and a respect ironically for argument tempered by emotion and collaboration and collegiality. They went where no one in television (thank you Gene Roddenbery) had gone before and through a portal into 21st Century skills, strategies and protocols. Andy Weir's Martian hero would have loved being on the captain's deck and done well in Star Fleet Academy as would we all. Mr. Trump might not make it there :( :( Still this show can be used as a digital 21st Century Civics and Political training tool. Energize, Engage!!

  2. Well said, Dr. Rose! I am a long term professional educator, and although this blog is not about Education, per se, clearly, my choice of items to reflect on here shows up anyway as things that represent and support good education. Star Trek (the original series, as well as the spin-offs)was,and in its fresh incarnation as YouTube videos, still is, a very powerful, very valuable instructional resource - a free one, at that! Your explanations about how and why this is so, made by citing proven and accepted professional approaches and theories is spot on... and, as Spock surely would say... "Fascinating!"