Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Brains: The Teaching Company classes on CD or DVD

If you like to learn and you have some spare time to listen while you do other things (drive, exercise, make beads...) I recommend the offerings at the Teaching Company. They often have really good sales so check the website and buy something at the reduced price.
I've listened (on CD) to about 10 different classes and my absolute favorite was The Renaissance, Reformation, and Rise of Nations.  It starts in 1348 with the beginning of The Plague and follows European history up to the mid 1700s. The Plague would have been a horrendous time to live through (one-third to one-half of the population dead in about three years!) but boy, did it spur a lot of  HUGE political, social, cultural, and economic changes in society.
With cheap labor in short supply, suddenly the Peasant class had options: they were in demand as workers, land was available because the previous owners were dead, there was more food to go around for the same reason, and they began to doubt the "divine" nature of royalty because Kings died just the same as any serf. And it all started rolling from there.
The class covers the religious wars, scientific knowledge of the time, what all the unethical Kings and Popes were doing over the 400 years and more. We've gained a lot of knowledge since then but human nature hasn't progressed as much...after many of the stories, I said to myself, "People don't change much, do they?"
I loved the instructor. He was low-key and conversational in his delivery which I really liked. A fair number of listeners who reviewed this course on the website find fault with some of his facts and his delivery but if you're interested in the time period and want a general overview, I wouldn't let it deter you. I prefer his style over some I've listened to that sound like an overly-rehearsed radio announcer.
Trivia Question: Name an agrarian of the 1600s who studied and encouraged the use of new practices to increase crop yields (crop rotation, fertilizers, etc.)  Think 1960s flute rock to come up with the answer...

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the review - I'm always looking for continuing education opportunities. Now, I have another to add to the list.



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