For nerds like me, being offered a contract by Wondrium (formerly The Great Courses Plus) was like being called up to the Big Leagues! I relied heavily on The Great Courses as I homeschooled my ten kids through high school, and now feel honored to be creating content for this fabulous company. Wondrium has set the price for this course at $119.95, but you can watch the entire course--all nine lessons-- for free by signing up for a 14-day trial membership.
Let me give you some background:
I’ve been a loyal Wondrium customer since 2002–from back when it was called The Teaching Company. I had been searching for a way to expose my growing brood of children to experts in the classics and history when I stumbled across a Teaching Company ad in the Wall Street Journal. Imagine my delight when I realized my little home school could feature brilliant professors like the Shakespeare scholar from Dartmouth or the American lit guru from Brown!
I soon acquired dozens of titles (then shipped to me on CDs in neat little binders) and filled my kids’ rides to football practice and cello lessons with riveting lectures on the Civil War or Great Minds of the Western Intellectual Tradition. In the afternoons when babies were napping my high school kids would put on their Walkmans (yes, this was a long time ago!) and learn from some of the most amazing teachers I had ever encountered. I’d often have them write essays about those lectures using the prompts in the excellently crafted course study guide that accompanied each title.
My kids thrived in college, and were able to dive deeply into the Great Books, since our Teaching Company “faculty” had prepared them so well. As adults, they continue to enjoy a life of the mind and are eager to learn new things. And all those essays about The Iliad and Jacksonian Democracy turned them into impressive writers.
As if all that were not enough, there was one other amazing benefit to investing thousands of dollars into Teaching Company/Wondrium titles: I got to take all those courses alongside my kids! I began to fill in the cavernous gaps in my own education.
(You see, my alma mater, Brown University is famous for its “Open Curriculum”–a vaunted approach to education that allows students to follow their muses, then hands them an Ivy League diploma even though they’ve never read the Constitution or figured out why World War I started. I really did appreciate the academic freedom at Brown and loved pursuing my passion for science, but I had always been embarrassed by my ignorance of history and literature.)
Now, imagine my exultation when Wondrium asked me to create a course called Raising Lifelong Learners! The academic source I relied to raise lifelong learners was asking me to describe how I did it! And as if that were not sweet enough, my “signing bonus” included a lifelong subscription to Wondrium’s streaming service which allows me to watch brilliant courses, documentaries, instructional videos and more to my heart’s content!
I decided to devote my blog "The Lifelong Learners' Club" to reviewing Wondrium courses that I enjoy. A Tai Chi class. A course on Jane Austen. A Manson Family documentary. A course on astrophysics. A cake decorating class. Whatever I’m learning on Wondrium, I’ll describe on my blog. And I’ll give you a chance on each blog post to watch that course for free.
And here’s some great news: if you become a Wondrium junkie like me, it no longer costs thousands of dollars to sate your curiosity. For as little as $0.41 a day you can have unlimited streaming access to the entire (ever-growing) catalogue of over 900 courses! In recent years Wondrium has expanded its purview: now, in addition to courses from every academic discipline, they offer craft and hobby courses, music lessons, documentaries, high-brow television programming, and more.
So, calling all lifelong learners: come discover along with me! If you take a Wondrium course or watch one of their documentaries, I’d love to post your review on my blog. I’m hoping my grandson will soon review the Wondrium self-defense class he’s taking. Let’s keep learning together; modeling curious exploration is the best way to raise a lifelong learner!