Back in time

A different kind of retro TV show

A different kind of retro TV show

September 25, 2005|By JULIE E. GREENE


Imagine a history class in which you live history.

Then you get to come home and share what you learned.

That, in a nutshell, was Julie Shenk's idea for a television show.

The idea, one of nine entries in The Herald-Mail's TV plot idea contest, won Shenk $50.

Shenk said she tried to think of a worthwhile show, "not just looking at TV for mindless activity, but to learn."

"The reason I came up with the idea is I love history," said Shenk, 51, who lives in Halfway with her husband, Jerry, and their youngest daughter, Justine, 14.


Shenk has home-schooled four daughters, Jamie, 23; Jenna, 19; Joelle, 18; and Justine.

Their history studies jumped around in time rather than following chronological order.

"At the end, we found that it all came together," said Shenk, whose favorite television shows are "CSI," "Without a Trace" and "The Amazing Race."

Shenk said she was partially inspired by the radio show, "Adventures in Odyssey," which focuses on Bible stories, and the book series, "Dear America," both of which her children used.

In her television show idea, the students don't have to follow a timeline.

But they do end up part of the timeline. How that happens, Shenk hadn't quite decided - whether it's virtual reality or a time machine.

The TV-show teacher uses a specialized computer program to immerse students in various time periods, she wrote.

"Each episode follows the escapades and experiences of history students who engage themselves in a different period of history. They discover that history is a guidepost to the present and catalyst for the future enriching their personal life and understanding while changing preconceived notions and prejudices," she wrote in her entry.

"I wanted to do something that was meaningful, that comes alive in your imagination, but also that (facilitates) your being there," she said.

Shenk said time traveling shows have been done before, but this one's different in part for what happens once the students return to present time.

In her idea, she envisions a different student each week going back in time and experiencing what life was like then. They come back and share the experience with classmates and family, in hopes of encouraging compassion and understanding of the plights of people in our past, Shenk said.

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