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Quote of the Week: "A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within." - Will Durant, American historian (1885-1981)


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 Post subject: In which we Critique Crash Course for their pretention. PostPosted: 2012-04-20 01:21pm
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Crash Course World History is a series of videos which foolishly attempt to condense world history into a series of 40 10-15 minute videos. Clearly, we must point out all the flaws in their work and tell them how they have failed to properly understand the fall of Rome, and the Fall of Constantinople was NOT the end of the Roman empire, because the Easter empire was clearly already dead at that point for more than 100 years.

...On the other hand, this is the the most educations on the Indus Valley Civilizations that I have ever gotten.



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 Post subject: Re: In which we Critique Crash Course for their pretention. PostPosted: 2012-04-20 02:42pm
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A lot of these youtube or video crash history courses suffer from the same problem, IE: lack of important details. The reality is you just can't teach quality history to a disinterested audience.



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 Post subject: Re: In which we Critique Crash Course for their pretention. PostPosted: 2012-04-20 03:08pm
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How exactly did you manage to form that complete non-sequitur? o.O :lol:



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 Post subject: Re: In which we Critique Crash Course for their pretention. PostPosted: 2012-04-20 03:30pm
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Unless the problem is only on my end, the main problem with the video is the terrible audio recording.

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 Post subject: Re: In which we Critique Crash Course for their pretention. PostPosted: 2012-04-20 04:31pm
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Skgoa wrote:
How exactly did you manage to form that complete non-sequitur? o.O :lol:


It's not a non sequitor. I've seen videos like this before. "Teach normally boring subject but insert comedic value". They exist because history is a boring subject to a lot of people. Ideas like this are cute but really don't really fix anything. They're even worse when according to the OP, they get things wrong or gloss over shit.



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 Post subject: Re: In which we Critique Crash Course for their pretention. PostPosted: 2012-04-20 09:39pm
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Well I mean, it's so short! How can you do anything but hit the high points and gloss over tons of stuff, even if you avoid the old school history? I mean, thus far, they have had 15 videos, only 2 of which have touched on India, and One has dealt with china. The Silk Road got as much time as all the Egyptian dynasties. The only civilization they aren't glossing over are the Mongols, who get namedropped in EVERY SINGLE VIDEO. They go out of their way to make sweeping generalizations that have the caveat 'unless you are the Mongols', such as "It is hard to conquer central asia".

On the other hand, how much detail is desirable in an online lecture series? Do we want a 14 week, 70 hour series on the minutia of the Pharaohs? I think the answer is no.



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 Post subject: Re: In which we Critique Crash Course for their pretention. PostPosted: 2012-04-21 02:21pm
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CaptHawkeye wrote:
Skgoa wrote:
How exactly did you manage to form that complete non-sequitur? o.O :lol:
It's not a non sequitor. I've seen videos like this before. "Teach normally boring subject but insert comedic value". They exist because history is a boring subject to a lot of people. Ideas like this are cute but really don't really fix anything. They're even worse when according to the OP, they get things wrong or gloss over shit.
Such a thing was actually rather helpful to me as a child. I can't disprove the claim that my interest in history wasn't increased by watching funny cartoons that tried the whole "edutainment" angle. But I believe it was.

I've also had at least some success with this myself, trying to teach people physics: if you can make them laugh, they connect with you on a level that makes it easier to get complex concepts across to them.

Come to think of it... "they really don't really fix anything." How do you measure failure? Have you taken surveys of what people know about history before and after such things? I've met people who do that sort of thing (again, in science education), and it's not quite as easy as it looks to work out what people have and have not learned. Also, many of our expectations about what makes people learn are... somewhat at odds with reality. I've seen documented cases of students going into a physics lecture course where the instructor does the traditional "stand at blackboard and derive equations" where the students come out knowing less than they did going in! You can't explain that away with "students are dumb and unmotivated."

Vehrec wrote:
On the other hand, how much detail is desirable in an online lecture series? Do we want a 14 week, 70 hour series on the minutia of the Pharaohs? I think the answer is no.
It would please me to learn that such a thing existed, but I'd probably never watch it. So... yeah, you're probably right.

Vehrec wrote:
Well I mean, it's so short! How can you do anything but hit the high points and gloss over tons of stuff, even if you avoid the old school history? I mean, thus far, they have had 15 videos, only 2 of which have touched on India, and One has dealt with china. The Silk Road got as much time as all the Egyptian dynasties. The only civilization they aren't glossing over are the Mongols, who get namedropped in EVERY SINGLE VIDEO. They go out of their way to make sweeping generalizations that have the caveat 'unless you are the Mongols', such as "It is hard to conquer central asia".
If they're up to the Silk Road you've probably watched history up through, what, 1000 AD? Let's think of a reasonable list of major civilizations that existed in the world up through 1000 AD...

Off the top of my head, the Greeks and Romans, possibly the Celts deserve a mention in passing for a fractional lecture. Medieval Europeans are of interest because they're directly ancestral to the guys who then went out and colonialized the rest of the world; if you don't understand where Europe comes from it is very hard to understand the 19th and 20th centuries in general. Ancient Egypt, ancient Mesopotamia probably deserves at least a full lecture... the Persians, the rise of Islam... We've already got about six or more lectures' worth of material and we haven't even gone east of the Urals, or west of the Atlantic.

Now, that's just me making a very crude attempt- but I really am not surprised if, say, the history of China from antiquity up to 500 AD or so gets compacted into a single lecture.

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 Post subject: Re: In which we Critique Crash Course for their pretention. PostPosted: 2012-04-22 01:07am
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All of you have missed the point that the goal isn't direct teaching of history, but instead teaching enough to generate more interest in the viewer.

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 Post subject: Re: In which we Critique Crash Course for their pretention. PostPosted: 2012-04-22 07:36am
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The actual episodes so far are:

The Agricultural Revolution and a horrible cold McDonalds Hamburger.
The Indus Valley Civilization
The Mesopotamian civilizations, up to the Assyrians.
The Egyptians up to the death of Cleopatra
Persians Vs Greeks, or why are we supposed to root for these jerks in 300?
Alexander the why is he so great anyways?
Chinese History, and a brief overview of all the dynasties in a single run on sentence. Plus Confucianism.
India, it's religions, society and Ashoka.
The Silk Road and it's impact on Rome, China and central asia.
The Roman republic/empire, in which the start of the empire is argued to be the Punic wars.
The rise of Christianity
The fall of Rome in 1453. Obviously, the second Rome.
Islam, the Koran, and the first four Caliphs.

Which hits several of the same points that you mentioned, but yeah, we've not even touched Africa or the Americas.



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 Post subject: Re: In which we Critique Crash Course for their pretention. PostPosted: 2012-04-27 11:08am
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I'm actually highly supportive of things like this. Anything that makes a reasonable effort at being accurate while at the same time interesting people towards further historical research is admirable.



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 Post subject: Re: In which we Critique Crash Course for their pretention. PostPosted: 2012-04-28 07:17am
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Vehrec wrote:
Well I mean, it's so short! How can you do anything but hit the high points and gloss over tons of stuff, even if you avoid the old school history? I mean, thus far, they have had 15 videos, only 2 of which have touched on India, and One has dealt with china. The Silk Road got as much time as all the Egyptian dynasties. The only civilization they aren't glossing over are the Mongols, who get namedropped in EVERY SINGLE VIDEO. They go out of their way to make sweeping generalizations that have the caveat 'unless you are the Mongols', such as "It is hard to conquer central asia".

On the other hand, how much detail is desirable in an online lecture series? Do we want a 14 week, 70 hour series on the minutia of the Pharaohs? I think the answer is no.


Honestly, this is more detail and in a broader scope already than the world history curriculum in many american high schools, and it is not even half way through the damn series. That 14 minutes on Islam is more than what gets taught in my high school at least, and the delivery is better. It was not until a semester course on comparative religion that I ever got more than "Yes, these are the five pillars of islam, founded by Mohammed, scourge of christendom due to shared holy sites. Quiz next week." Granted, I taught myself a good chunk, but still. The same goes for china, the silk road, and mesopotamia. Nothing on the Indus Valley civ until university.

If the point is to give someone a very very basic grounding and generate some interest in a viewer so that they go out and learn more on their own, this series does a damn fine job of it so far.



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 Post subject: Re: In which we Critique Crash Course for their pretention. PostPosted: 2012-04-28 08:56am
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True, true. Their most recent episode, on the Dark Ages, spend more time on the Islamic empire and the Tang Dynasty than it did on Europe. It also called the Dark Ages the most euro-centric thing in all of history, which is a pretty damning statement!



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