Here’s a wonderful high school level history resource for homeschoolers. Annenberg Learner offers PBS’s 52-week video course, The Western Tradition, online — absolutely free.
The course starts with “the dawn of history” and ancient Egypt and extends into the technological revolution. Each episode is approximately a half hour and is presented by UCLA history professor Eugen Weber.
Topics include Greek philosophy, the Byzantine Empire, the Dark Ages, common life in the middle ages, the Enlightenment, the Reformation, Absolutism and the Social Contract, modern philosophers, the American Revolution, the French Revolution and the Industrial Revolution, just to name a few.
Annenberg Learner describes the course:
Covering the ancient world through the age of technology, this illustrated lecture by Eugen Weber presents a tapestry of political and social events woven with many strands — religion, industry, agriculture, demography, government, economics, and art.
The videos are comprised of lectures, maps, works of art, photographs and even a cartoon depicting the history of the western world in four minutes for the introduction video.
Dr. Weber acknowledges the biases in teaching history, and says in the introduction video:
Today, I begin my personal journey through the history of Western Civilization. I say personal because one man or one woman’s view of history is not necessarily another’s, as we shall see again and again in the next 52 programs.
He goes on to say:
This is what history is about: where we come from; what lies behind the way we live and act and think; how our institutions, our religions, our laws were made. And this is what I hope to do in this series — to go back to our origins. I know that all of us do not stem from the little peninsulas of Asia that we call Europe. But the language, the culture, the politics of the society we live in stem from there. And so, it’s an important journey for us to take from the very beginning.
The series also includes over 2,700 images from the Metropolitan Museum of Art to help illustrate the thought, culture, and tradition of the eras. Optional teacher materials are available for purchase from the site, too, but are not necessary.
Note that this is a secular series that discusses topics such as evolution and prehistory (primarily in the first episode).
You can view the course outline to get more detail on the topics covered each week.
The Western Tradition was produced in 1989 so a more modern resource will be necessary for the most recent history, but this is still an excellent resource to use as part of a high school history curriculum, to view with older children, or to just refresh your own Western history knowledge..
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