Jump to content


Would you spend $ on documentaries or Teaching company lectures

Recommended Posts

I am trying to decide whether to spend on BBC, History channel and other documentaries or Teaching Company lectures.


The killer from the Teaching Company is the shipping cost. For example, The 'Foundations of Western Civilization' course is going to cost $60 just for shipping to South Africa. Its on sales for $129, so $189 in total. (Streaming is not an option. I've got only 2Gb per month of very expensive bandwidth).


A BBC documentary on Western Civilization is $30 (including shipping).


Its probably comparing apples with oranges, but would still like to hear your opinion.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We have several TC courses. All have been excellent so far.


I can't compare to the BBC documentaries.


If you get on the TC mailing list or email list, you will get tons of sale offers. I think I remember free shilling offers also. At first, I thought I had to hurry up and buy a course due to a big sale, then realized they have big sales all year round.


You can also watch for them used.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Have you been able to preview either/both series?


I don't know anything about the BBC set. We do own the TC Western Civ. My son likes it; my daughter despises it. The style - lecture with some visuals - is not at all engaging to her. I'm guessing the BBC documentaries might be more visually appealing to her.


My philosophy on buying is to get the best I can reasonably afford. If the $150 difference is a big deal to you (it would be to me), and if the BBC documentaries are good and useful, then, get those and don't look back.


If you really want the TC course, see if you can find free shipping codes online (if free shipping is even offered to SA; I don't assume it is).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It is very much apples to oranges. One is a documentary and the other is a history professor standing at a lectern and lecturing. There are some visuals, but it is very much like sitting in on a college lecture (I own this particular one and Western Civ. 2.). With the TC lectures, you get a printed outline and could use that as a jumping off point for further research.


If you already have a history course you like very much, I'd get the documentary. If you'd like that to be DVD based with a good text, (like Speilvogel) library books and other documentaries sprinkled in, get the TC lectures. Watch them with your student though so you can occasionally stop and discuss. They very much follow along with the book I just linked. It adds maps and such (There is even a website to go along with it accessible to anyone: Book Companion Site )

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have many TC courses and would spend for the course, not for a documentary. I always get audio, not the DVDs; not only is audio cheaper, but we are also more likely to use an audio course than a video one. the lectures typically have very few visuals.

I like documentaries, but more as a fun supplement. They are not as substitute for the college level analysis and discussion the TC lectures provide.


In your situation, however, I would check out if the money would be better spent upgrading your internet so that you could use streaming options for both TC and documentaries; that would seem to me the most beneficial investment. Of course I don't know if that is technically possible where you live.

Edited by regentrude
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Are you looking at these for yourself or for your children? TC courses are best suited for children older than yours--I've bought them for both myself and my high schoolers....


If for you, I'd go with the audio version of TC--you'll cover a lot of content that way in a flexible mode--well-suited to listening while working/driving/cooking, etc.


I'm not familiar enough with the BBC documentaries to know if they are engaging enough for young children.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Battlefield Britain, I think done by BBC, is excellent (talks about rape, though). Overall, though, Teaching Company Courses lack the video drama that History Channel and BBC documentaries have. This is one thing that makes them so appealing. Teaching Company are fantastic, but aside from the high school history lectures, much drier.


That's not a bad thing. I loved The History of Science -- Antiquity to 1700, but it's not going to appeal to as wide an audience as something the History Channel did.


I do try to get my library to order them, and they have quite a few sets. I think they are very much worth their money, though, and I have bought a few.


PS -- Unless your children are super interested in a topic, I would say get them for yourself and perhaps your kids will sit in on them. These are more like college professors talking to a classroom.

Edited by nestof3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

We get everything online or from the library. I'd find it very difficult to justify spending a lot of money on documentaries/lectures.


If you need free online options for lectures -- you could try coursera.org or any of the online lectures at various universities. (Do you need links?) Youtube, the BBC, and PBS in the US also have a lot of stuff. Are any of those available where you are?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Are you looking at these for yourself or for your children? TC courses are best suited for children older than yours--I've bought them for both myself and my high schoolers....




I like audio best because we can listen to them in the car (or while painting the house). They can often be downloaded (instead of shipped). You'd have to check on downloading to SA though.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks everyone!


As a general reply and for background which I probably should have included in my OP....

I'm still thinking things through, but the Teaching Company courses would be for me first and then for dd and I to watch or listen to together later.

I like the idea of the audio for in the car. We do a lot of driving. Are these audio download files or is it also streaming? (ETA: A little bit of research answered that...downloadable - so I can schedule them for overnight downloads).


Dd will be in grade 8 from January and willl be finishing off K12 Human Odyssey with supplemental reading and viewing. We will probably stretch K12 HO for the whole of 8th grade.

She will be starting preparation for IGCSE (UK exams) in grade 9. The final decision is still a year off, but history is not currently one of her seven subject choices. I don't mind much because I don't like the IGCSE focus on only the 19th and 20th century with a specific focus on only one country during that period, rather than an overview of world history.


We have Teaching Company's "How to Look at and Understand Great Art" for art appreciation this year and dd has liked it and learned a huge amount which she tries to apply in her own drawing. She does not, however, enjoy history as much as art...


Since history will not be an 'exam subject', I know already that it is going to get a lot less attention than her other subjects. I'm looking at options for history as a 'supplement', but with still enough depth to make it worthwhile.

We could work through a text (I already have an older edition Spielvogel's Human Odyssey), but I think viewing a course and/or documentaries will be more enjoyable for a supplemental course.

Another thought that I have bubbling is to use the teaching company lectures as a spine and then fill in with the documentaries (which then negates my original question of one or the other...)


I still have a lot of time (probably too much LOL!) to think everything through and to decide - which also gives me a whole year to look out for sales and get all the resources together.

Edited by Hannah
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Create New...