[su_dropcap style=”simple” size=”2″]A[/su_dropcap]h, the Black Plague. Such a cheery topic to study as part of our History this year. Okay, maybe “cheery” is not the best way to describe the greatest pandemic in recorded history. It is however, very interesting, especially to our 12 year old daughter. You see, she took a class as part of our co-op a few years back about this period of time and has always wanted to dive deeper on it.
So, here we are, chasing the interests of our kids. In doing so, we’ve found that our kids learn, actually really learn, what we are studying. This is the greatest freedom offered by homeschooling. The ability to chase and dive and dig into subjects that light our kids up. So, whether it is the Black Plague for Peanut or snakes for Boy Wonder, it is up to us as teachers to take these interests and make them valuable learning experiences. It would be so easy just to toss a few books or YouTube videos at them and call it good and move on. But, we shouldn’t be in such a hurry to hit that next topic, to check off that next subject. Sometimes, we can take an interest and teach so much more than just about the one small subject.
This brings us to the point of this particular post. You may have heard of The Great Courses and the various products that they offer. The company offers hundreds of courses taught by renowned professors and instructors on a wide variety of subjects. These courses can be purchased individually on audio CD or video DVD along with streaming and download options available. The way that I am utilizing their product is through Amazon Prime, which offers an add-on subscription called the Great Courses Signature Collection for a small monthly fee of $7.99. This selection of courses, while reduced from the much larger catalog offered directly from The Great Courses, is still excellent and currently sits at 93 courses. Many of these are what I see as some of their most intriguing options and new content is being added monthly.
In looking at these offerings, I noticed a new addition called “The Black Death: The World’s Most Devastating Plague” and knew immediately that it might fit in perfectly to our schooling. The course consists of 24 lectures running 30 minutes in length and is taught by Dorsey Armstrong, a professor at Purdue University. I talked to Peanut about it and she was completely on board. We watched the first lecture together and I was very impressed. I had her take notes (as did I) and I paused the video multiple times to explain deeper certain topics that the professor mentioned. These teachable moments included agrarian cultures, the feudal system and what it means for a farmer to let a field lay fallow. That is what I was referring to earlier when I mentioned taking an interest and making it teachable beyond just a moment in history. My daughter now has been introduced to crop rotations, the three estate system (noble, clergy, peasant) and how medieval society functioned. The crazy part is that we barely touched on the plague which is why we were there in the first place but yet she was totally engaged.
Over the next month or two, we will watch the rest of the course and by the time we finish, she will have taken what is essentially a college-level class at 12 years old. Living in the future is amazing isn’t it?