I love The Teaching Company. For Christmas I picked up several audio courses for Rob to enjoy as he drives to and from Detroit each day on his cassette player. Since cassettes are passe, I was able to buy them for a more than reasonable price.
Rob is not the only one to benefit from the gift, as I've been listening to Francis of Assisi over the past few weeks and I've got to give the audio lecture two thumbs up.
The Francis of Assisi course is given by two professors, William R. Cook and Ronald B. Herzman. The two work great together in delivering the lectures and they keep it upbeat -- not always an easy thing to do.
Most of us Catholics are used to reading a lot of hagiography. This course is not hagiography. You will instead hear the life of Francis put into a secular, historical perspective. This is a good thing. It is important for us as homeschoolers to take Church history and the lives of the Saints and learn about them in relation to the World.
The Church does not exist in a vacuum. The Saints do not live in a vacuum. In modern times we can put this idea into action by recalling the life of Mother Teresa. This holy nun did not live in her own little world but impacted the world of politics, media, and social justice. We saw her on stage with President Clinton, arm and arm with Princess Dianna, on the news caring for the poor and sick. She was shaped by our modern world and we were shaped in a way by her presence.
This is true too for St. Francis. He is a product of the middle ages. And the middle ages were in a way shaped by St. Francis. His impact on the world continues through today. The Teaching Company course Francis of Assisi gives us that perspective. We gain insight into the times of St. Francis, from the economics to the politics of the day. Professors Cook and Herzman also give us insight into how St. Francis continues to shape the world today.
I think this course would be a great addition to any high school history course, particularly for my fellow Catholic homeschoolers.
If you would like to purchase this audio series (this particular course is not available on DVD or video) you can purchase the CD set or audio download at the Teaching Company's website. Used sets can be found on E-Bay and Amazon. If you're still in the stone ages like me and in need of cassette tapes, Amazon is probably your best bet.
Keep in mind that the Teaching Company always has great sales. Every one of their courses goes on sale at least once a year for 70% off, so it's a good idea to get on their mailing list. Also make sure to check for coupons as they occasionally have free shipping or $20 off orders over $150. (Yes, that includes sales items!) One place to check for coupons if you're not on the mailing list is Retail Me Not.