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Help choosing Great Courses

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We recently got a subscription to The Great Courses Plus streaming service. There are SO MANY courses on there and they all look great! But they all have so many lectures. I am having a hard time deciding how to use these. So far we have watched any that caught our fancy. I would like to put together a more cohesive history course but don't know whether we should choose one course and watch all the lectures, choose a few courses to watch, or if I should go through and pick lectures from different courses that would somehow work together for a broader world history course.


They also keep adding courses from their catalog to the service, so there are too many to choose from. 


I'm looking for the best courses or lecturers to choose from. Which ones are really great? Which could we skip? And there are a lot of courses with different view points that would be fun to integrate - inventions that changed the world, daily life, art, architecture, literature. My son has loved History's Great Military Blunders. 


Any recommendations?

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I would like to put together a more cohesive history course but don't know whether we should choose one course and watch all the lectures, choose a few courses to watch, or if I should go through and pick lectures from different courses that would somehow work together for a broader world history course.


I would recommend the Aldrete course "History of the Ancient World: A Global Perspective" as a starting point.  I think you could go straight through that course without picking and choosing through the ancient time frame.  If you want a more in-depth and more advanced treatment of some topics in ancient history (e.g., Herodotus) and literature, the Elizabeth Vandiver lectures are outstanding. (Thanks to the people who recommended them on the WTM forums!)  If you want to do something parallel with literature, you could consider picking and choosing, or watching all, of the "Great Authors of the Western Literary Tradition" course.  I think that those would be a great place to start.  I'm not aware of as much on non-Western literature from the Great Courses, but I'd be interested in any recommendations from the Great Courses or elsewhere. 


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Most courses we tried are good, some outstanding.

Anything by Elizabeth Vandiver is outstanding. Iliad and Odyssey top the list, but the others are great, too.

Philipp Daileader's three courses on the Middle Ages are very good; I did not enjoy his Crusades course as much.

Robert Greenberg is fantastic. Start with How to listen to and understand great music. I also liked his Bach and the High Baroque.


We also liked Kenneth Harl's Vikings, anything Rufus Fears, Turning points in American History.


I disliked: Particle Physics.

We hated and returned: High school Chemistry with Cardulla.


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We've done a lot of these.  Let's see.  


Western Civ with Professor Noble is great.  


American Identity with Allitt is also another one we've done multiple times.


 As said before Greenberg on anything music is great.  


We loved the How the Earth Works (except the guy uses the phrase 'it turns out' every other sentence!).  Very mind-blowing stuff!


We also really enjoyed the one on Dante (by two professors Cook and somebody else, I think) as well as their series on St. Francis of Assisi.  


And we really liked one called Augustine, Philosopher and Saint - though the professor (Cary?) is absolutely the most eccentric lecturer alive!  


We also enjoyed the one on WWII billed as a social and military history but we found it was more military than social.  The professor is rather dry but the content, to me and my son was riveting.  My dd disagreed though.


Right now we are watching Natural Law and Human Nature - it is a bit tough for high schoolers, but very meaty stuff, well presented.


On my own I've watched the lecture series on Latin which was great but went super fast!  I've started the one on Economics by Taylor but woefully never finished it.


We got a really good out of the library once on archeology by an absolutely fantastic lecturer - but I don't remember his name.  It was on Ancient archeology.


We have the old How to be a Superstar student which we really liked.  My dd credits her college success her first semester by doing everything that the guy recommended.  I mean she got off to really strong start because she followed his advice.  But they've made a new one since then, so I don't know if I can recommend that one.


The ones I would not recommend:


Can't stand Bart Erhmann (sp?)  But I've never watched them!  I've read his books so on the strength of that I don't want to see his lectures.


We tried watching the math tricks one (we borrowed it from someone) but my kids just thought it was cheesy and boring at the same time.


I listened to some of Philip Daileader's middle ages lectures just for my own edification, I think Early and High Middle ages (2 courses) I liked them a lot but I can't give you student feedback.






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Available on TGCPLUS for History that we liked:


Early Middle Ages and High Middle Ages by Daileader

English History (Tudors to Stuarts) by Bucholtz (sp)

Our Favorites so far though are Human Geography and History of Food.


For Science we liked:

The New History of Life

Turning Points in Evolution

I've just started on Organic Chemistry but so far it's not boring.


ETA: Some we've watched straight through, others like Psychology topics DD just jumps around.

We're doing a quick trip through Western Civ right now and using Western Civ as the base and adding History of Food and a few of the others interspersed. We'll switch to using US History as the base next year with Western Civ and some of the other courses (like Blunders, Turning Points, Decisive Battles, and the Meso America ones) mixed in.

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Our favorite profs in order of popularity are:

Elizabeth Vandiver (Iliad, Odyssey, Herodotus, Classical Myth)

Tom Shippey (Literature)

Bill Messenger (Jazz and Musicals) ties with James Hynes (Writing Great Fiction)

Benjamin Schumacher (Physics)

Paul Zeitz and Art Benjamin (Math, although admittedly we tend to use the GCs more for the humanities than math)


Edited by quark
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