One of my favorite "discoveries" of this past year was the "Teaching Company." Over the years, I had seen their ads, but it had never dawned on me that I would become a consumer of their recorded products.
That changed when two things happened:
1) My son Alex gave me an iPod for Christmas in 2005, and I discovered I loved listening to podcasts; and
2) I was taking a class on the human brain in February, and one of the students said, "Hey everybody, Sapolsky's series is on sale." He was referring to the eminent Stanford neuro-biologist Robert Sapolsky and the 24 part Teaching Company program on the brain ("The Neurological Origins of Individuality").
I went to their site and found that I could download it in MP4 format for $35.95. I was immediately hooked. Sapolsky's great, the series was well-produced, and I learned a lot. My wife, daughter, and son also downloaded it at no extra cost — so in effect it cost us each $9 for 12 hours of learning.
But that was just the beginning. I listened to a 36 part "History of Science in the 20th Century" flying to and from Hong Kong. Next came a 36 part series on the basics of Economics.
Here's a really neat thing: since this is the Internet, you can download these programs anywhere (well, duh!). When I was in Japan, I finished up one series and wanted another for the flight home. I simply got another program on Classical Mythology (only 5 minutes to download with a fast connection).
This past summer, when I was in working in my shop making prototypes for the follow-on product to the Ball of Whacks, I listened to several more programs: one on Nietzsche, another on Cultural Patterns in Anthropology, and still another one on Great Books. My hands and eyes were busy, but these programs gave me additional mental stimulation.
I just finished a 32 part program on Bach by Robert Greenberg who is an extremely talented educator (and composer). I've had a life-long love affair with Bach, and Professor Greenberg deepened my affection for his music. I highly recommend him.
My wife and I are going to Egypt in early February, and so we're currently listening to a program on ancient Egyptian History and Culture.
If you've listened to programs from the Teaching Company, I'd like to know which ones you would recommend. Thanks!
Also, what other sources of educational material can you recommend?