Tuesday, July 23, 2013


Those who know me well know that I am a serious lover of The Teaching Company's The Great Courses.  Over the years I have checked out virtually every course, on either video or audio, that my local library has in their collection.  For those of you unfamiliar with what these are, they are series of lectures, each episode a half an hour in length, about a given subject.  Some have as few as six or eight installments, but others have more than thirty, varying dependent upon the scope and complexity of the subject being discussed.  Although the lectures are presented by some of the nation's top college professors they are very accessible, geared towards the adult who seeks to be a life-long learner.  I have also used many from a variety of subjects, with great success, in our homeschool.

The breadth of topics is staggering.  There are courses for virtually any era, event, or major personage from history.  If the arts are your thing you can learn about music from the age of Gregorian Chant to Stravinsky or painters from Fra Angelico through the post-modernists.  Want to learn more about a given author, some of the great classics, or how to get more out of your reading?  Perhaps you want to learn how to do mental math, learn games to make numbers fun, or help a student with their trigonometry.  There are courses for all of those as well.  If you want the concrete facts of science, or the more indeterminate studies of philosophy and religion, courses abound in their catalog.  If you want practical application there are courses in leadership, finance and economics, health and nutrition, communication skills, and critical thinking to name a few.

I have, over the years, posted reviews on some of these courses, even though they are not regular audio books per se.  What has prompted this blog post is the fabulous fact that these courses, at least the ones that are available in audio format, are now available from Audible, an audio book subsidiary of Amazon.  I make it a pretty firm tenet not to outright peddle products or endorse any companies-that is not what my blog is for, and I think my readers don't want to be advertised to-but if you are interested in these courses, you will not find a better source than Audible (who is not paying me either cash or products for this blog post).  Members of Audible pay a monthly fee of about $15.00, and for this you get a monthly credit.  Each credit will pay for one course; I looked up some of the longest courses that I knew of, and none were more than one credit.  Considering that most of these courses cost between $35-$60 if you are a non-member, if you are seriously interested in them, I would recommend joining as a member.  In addition, Audible often offers the opportunity for members to purchase three credits for about $35, making your savings even greater.  You can buy from Audible without committing to a monthly membership, but your costs will be higher than a member's, because in addition to their monthly credit, members also get better deals on items they choose to purchase if they do not have credits available.  Whether you are a member or not, Audible is still the best deal for The Great Courses.  Let me
give you an example.  The course entitled The American Civil War is regularly priced $249.95 on The Teaching Company's website; even on the short once yearly sale you would pay $64.95 (and not every course goes on sale every year).  Audible offers it for $52.95 for non-members and $37.06 for members choosing not to expend a credit.  However, if you are a member you can get it for your monthly credit price of less than $15.00, or a bit more than $11.00 if you are using extra credits you bought on special.

So why, you might ask, should I buy these courses at all if they are readily available from public libraries?  I guarantee you that you will want to listen to them many times over.  They are so information dense that it will take that to truly absorb everything that they have to impart.  And they are so enjoyable that listening more than once is a pleasure.  When we have checked them out from the library I have also had difficulty finding time to listen to the longer series before they are due back, and invariably there is someone with a hold on them so that they cannot be renewed.

If you are interested in learning more about Audible's offerings, here is their URL:


If you want more information of the courses themselves, beyond what is given on Audible's site (it is not very extensive), the URL for The Teaching Company is here:


Exploring The Teaching Company's site is also a great way to discover more about those lecture series that they have available on DVD, which you might want to look for at your library.  Or likewise, you can learn more about the audio versions even if you decide not to purchase them from Audible but choose instead to try to procure them from your library.

I hope that my many reading friends, especially those of you who enjoy non-fiction, choose to give The Great Courses a try.  There is something for everyone, and you will, I guarantee it, enjoy every minute you spend with these top scholars as they share their enthusiasm for their various fields of specialization.