As regular followers of the Neighborhood can tell you, I was a pretty dorky kid.
It wasn’t enough that I sat and read the encyclopedia cover to cover. Nor was it enough as a precocious 8 year old explaining human reproduction to my mother–on a crowded city bus.
I actually got up early for school…to watch school on TV.
Especially during middle and high school, I would get up at a ridiculously early hour. Most of the time, it was simply to unwind and have some time to myself before I go off to the drudgery of classes. Usually I could watch a movie on the VHS, or an old show I taped the night before.
Eventually, I was hooked on the most surprising of programs–a college lecture.
Produced by the Annenberg Foundation and broadcast on PBS, The Western Tradition was a 1989 series of 52 televised lectures given by UCLA history professor Eugen Weber. It covered the development of Western civilization from the dawn of agriculture to the technological age, and wove many common themes together into a unified theory: trends in technology, social movements, government, economics, religion and art.
For me, it was an early entry into the world of higher education, and I was hooked.
Not only were the lectures rich, informative and compelling, they were delivered by a professor whose cadence even today is the benchmark for a great college history professor. Dr. Weber was born in Romania and educated at Cambridge, so his Eastern European Oxbridge lilt was both comforting and erudite. His pronunciation of names was impeccable–I thought all professors should sound like that.
Its not really for kids younger than high school age, but these lectures give a great overview of the main topics of Western civilization. They also give kids a heads-up on what is expected of college students–it sure isn’t “accountable talk” and Common Core, is it?