Speech Boot Camp

Speech Boot Camp

Andrew Pudewa has built his educational empire on the principle that kids need to be taught directly in order to truly grasp a concept or master a skill. Speech Boot Camp: Introduction to Public Speaking eliminates the typical middle-man aspect of most Institute for Excellence in Writing programs, presenting lectures by Pudewa himself to be watched simultaneously by the parent or teacher and her students.

Originally a two-week crash course taught by Pudewa, Speech Boot Camp has been broken into smaller lectures to allow groups or families to move at their own pace. Everything you need to complete the program successfully is contained on the 4 DVDs and in the spiralbound Teacher Notes/Trainee Materials book, though you may want your students to read famous speeches from the past to see how others have mastered the art of oratory.

How Does This Work?

Because public speaking is meant to be done in public, Pudewa suggests this course is best completed in a group setting, though individual families can serve as both pupils and audience. There are eleven 1-hour lessons, and the authors (Pudewa, Maria Gerber, and Jill Pike) suggest completing one lesson per week; students will need time on the side to complete assignments and write speeches, of course. A twelfth session is also suggested as an end-of-class party with speeches.

Very little teacher preparation is needed to complete this course. Teachers are to present students with tabbed 3-ring binders, and there are periodic forms at the back of the book to be printed off and completed by students, but there's no need to preview the DVD lessons beforehand, or plan extra activities. The most important form to be used in this course is the Speaker Evaluation Form, which allows students to mark their progress and understand where they need more work.

Several lessons deal primarily with the basics of speech evaluation and the physical stylistic elements of delivery, like poise, elocution, eye contact, etc. Other lessons guide students through the particulars of researching, writing, and delivering self-introduction, narrative, descriptive, and persuasive speeches. Teachers will want to watch the lectures with students, but there are also guidelines for evaluating and grading speeches in the teacher notes.

Kids in grades 6-12 will learn to pick a topic, outline, do research, use mannerisms, etc. in the interest of delivering an informative, entertaining, and well-organized speech. Most of the DVD content simply features Andrew Pudewa delivering lectures to a live audience, though one feature of Speech Boot Camp that distinguishes it from others like it is a number of sample speeches delivered by students to demonstrate different kinds of speeches and delivery.

This is an extremely easy to use program, and accomplishes exactly what the name would imply: students are given a crash course on the basics of speech writing and oratory with no frills. Students will not have mastered the art of public speaking by the time they've finished the course, but they'll have enough knowledge to move ahead, to hone particular skills, and to achieve a level of confidence behind a podium or lectern.

Our Honest Opinion

A lot of attention in recent years has been focused on rhetoric and debate skills, but public speaking seems to get sidelined in the shuffle. Most of this is probably due to the fact that if kids don't have anything to say, or a logical way of saying it, they have no business delivering speeches. Inasmuch as it fills this void, Speech Boot Camp is a welcome addition to the Institute for Excellence in Writing family of products, and to the homeschool market in general.

The content is solid, and this is a good introduction. However, Andrew Pudewa himself isn't a particularly strong speaker (though he is articulate), and some of his fidgety mannerisms and lack of authority behind the speech stand detract somewhat from the information he's imparting. We'd recommend the Secrets of Great Communicators program by Jeff Myers for most families, though Pudewa's program could still serve as an introduction to an often scary and overwhelming subject.

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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Exodus Rating:
FLAWS: Pudewa doesn't always exemplify his own advice
Summary Solid but basic introduction to public speaking that starts with choosing a topic and ends with delivery.

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