Saturday, June 30, 2007

Educational Update

Several months ago I mentioned that Glenda and I had started taking the course "History of Western Civilization - Part 1", which I purchased from The Learning Company on-line. The course, on DVD, consisted of 48 30-minute lectures by Professor Thomas F.X. Noble of the University of Notre Dame. We have now completed the series, which covered the period 10,000 B.C. to about 1,600 A.D.

I was completely satisfied with the course material and the professor. Although I had read a fair number of quality histories, Professor Noble brought the many civilizations and cultures to life in a way that books just can't do. Books, of course, contain much more detail, but they generally don't summarize the essense of a topic the way an expert can, nor do they often make the great leaps of comparison ("remember when, a few sessions ago, we talked about....") that can be accomplished verbally. Moreover, Professor Noble was equally capable of discussing virtually all the characteristics of a culture - government, literature, science, religion, economics, politics, and family life.

The Learning Company advertises that course as follows: "This broad and panoramic series will help you pull an enormous sweep of history together into one coherent - though by no means closed - framework." This is not an exaggeration.

So, based on our good experience with this course, we have started another - "How to Listen to and Understand Great Music, 3rd Edition", by Professor Robert Greenberg, a noted composer and professor with wide-ranging credentials who is currently music historian-in-residence with San Francisco Performances. After completing the first two of 48 45-minute lectures we look forward to each night's meeting with Professor Greenberg, a dynamic and obviously brillant man. We love "concert" music, but we have never been exposed to a more formal explanation of where and why it came from and how it is structured. By fall, we will be a lot smarter about this.

Greenberg states very early that "this is not a music appreciation course". By that, he means that he intends to give us insights about why certain music was written in certain times, and to educate us about the underlying harmonic, rhythmic and other musical structures inside the compositions. So far, excellent!

This non-compensated commercial for The Learning Company was brought to you in the hope that you might find as much satisfaction as we have from one of their great products. The subject areas are amazingly wide-ranging. Check them out at


Dave said...

Is Glenda, as in Good Witch, an internet name or, her very own?

Life Hiker said...

Glenda (her real name), has been nicknamed by me the Good Witch for too many years to recall. She does have a knack for making good things happen.