As homeschooling evolves to suit techno-savvy families, increasingly innovative approaches to instruction are introduced. Drive Thru History with Dave Stotts isn't a curriculum, but it is innovative, and it does that one thing homeschoolers have come to be so proud of: educate.
Those who remember public school may recall many fun activities without much real content. Dave Stotts not only keeps your kids still for awhile, he'll improve their knowledge of history and God's providential hand in it. He'll also entertain them, but it's entertainment with a purpose.
How Do These Work?
A number of DVDs cover the history of the world, the United States, and the Holy Land from a Christian perspective. 1-1/2 hour DVDs can't cover everything, but Stotts goes beyond bullet-points, covering central figures and events in each era 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 the world to record history lectures on-site. When discussing the Battle of Bunker Hill, he's standing where British and American troops clashed; for the episode on Jericho, he visits the ruins in modern-day Palestine. Unlike similar videos from less capable producers, the camera shows what Stotts sees; 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 cheesy); Stotts has tons of energy and a great 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 presented in a clear narrative style, but there are 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 fun facts, discussion questions, and answers to the questions.
Middle and high school students are the target audience, and 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 some brush-up 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 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.
Our Honest Opinion:
We're pretty excited about these. A lot of courses promise to entertain and educate simultaneously, but most of them fail to capture both elements. 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 as supplements), 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.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he's a husband and father who loves church, good food, and weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here
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