As homeschooling evolves to suit the techno-savvy parents and children of the 21st century, increasingly innovative approaches to instruction are introduced. Drive Thru History with Dave Stotts isn't a curriculum in the strict sense, but it is innovative, and it does that one thing homeschoolers have come to be so proud of: educate.
Those of us who remember public school can recall plenty of fun activities, but few of them actually imparted any real knowledge. Dave Stotts will certainly keep your kids still for awhile, but when they come away they'll know more about history and God's providential hand in it. They'll be entertained too, of course, but it's entertainment with a purpose.
A number of DVD series cover world history, United States history, and the history of the Holy Land from a Christian perspective. 1 1/2 hour DVDs can't cover everything, but Stotts takes more than simply a bullet-point approach, instead covering the most important figures and events of each era and covering them with enough depth to encompass other topics as well.
Drive Thru History is literally what it sounds like—Dave Stotts and a camera crew travel around the world to record history lectures on-site. When discussing the Battle of Bunker Hill, for instance, he's actually standing where the British and American troops clashed; and for the episode on Jericho, he visits the ruins in modern-day Palestine. Unlike similar videos from less capable producers, however, the camera shows kids what Stotts is seeing; his voice-overs are visualized, and while his on-camera appearances are amusing, he doesn't hog screentime.
Instead, he wants students to understand the geographical and historical context of the content they're learning. These are exceedingly fun (and not in a cheesy way); Stotts has tons of energy and a pretty hilarious sense of humor (it may go over the heads of younger kids), but he also has a passion for history, and for presenting it from a Christian perspective. It's catching.
This isn't a complete curriculum. There's plenty of information here, and it's presented in a clear, linear narrative style, but you'll need to fill gaps. It works great as an introduction or supplement to a more thorough program, or as a worldview supplement to a less ideological course. PDFs are included with each DVD, and offer extra fun facts, discussion questions, and answers to the questions.
Middle and high school students are the target audience, and they're the ones most likely to get a lot out of these. At the same time, Stotts (while ridiculous) doesn't talk down to his viewers, and even parents who need help contextualizing their history knowledge may find these useful. Younger kids are likely to enjoy Stotts' approach as well, and can be introduced to the flow of history through these videos.
Remember that these aren't DVD-ROMS: they're simply DVDs to watch and discuss. And you do need to discuss these with your kids (or youth group, or Sunday school, or wherever you use them). Because Stotts deals with ideas and attitudes as much as with events, you'll want to be sure your students grasp the proper Christian response, and learn to think critically about history.
We're pretty excited about these. A lot of courses have come along that promise to entertain and educate simultaneously, but most of them do one or the other and fail to capture both elements (others fail on both levels). Dave Stotts knows history, and he knows entertainment, and his blend of the two is flawless. The DVDs are fast-moving, but the camera crew is professional, deftly swapping between long shots and rapid montages.
Again, you'll want to supplement these (or use them to supplement another program), but they go far beyond most history resources to actually show the ideological background of events and periods, and to present the narrative flow of the Big Picture. Produced by Focus on the Family, Drive Thru History is fun, funny, highly educational, and classy, a winning combination for modern homeschool families looking for an alternative to boring textbooks and dry lectures that manages to impart the same information.