We used HaoH in 8th and 9th grade for European and American History. Here is my review (note this is 6+ years old and some things have improved):
A little background on our history studies thus far: We used SOTW in 2nd-5th grades and loved it. We used History Odyssey in 6th-7th grade and tolerated it. In my search for a secular history program that that would not bore ds to death (as I had been bored to death by history all my school years), I found History at our House.
History at our House website is http://www.historyatourhouse.com. The website is difficult to navigate. Scott Powell teaches history via conference call 4 days/wk, with 1 day devoted to history through art, to students from 2nd grade through high school. He teaches in a 3 year rotation: Ancient History, European History, and American History. We participated in European History in the 2009-2010 school year and American History in the 2010-2011 school year. 4x per week live participation is available for $75/mo. 1x per week live participation is available for $35/mo. No live participation (all recordings) is available for $20/mo. My son is in the junior high class. He participates live 1x per week.
- Passionate, knowledgeable (actually brilliant) teacher
- Teacher answers all questions easily
- History through art is outstanding
- Ancillary items (maps, family trees, timelines, pictures)
- History is being logically presented
- Thorough tests (administered and graded by parent with provided grading key)
- Occasional homework assignments (knowledge web, historical dates, written narrations, facts practice, timeline)
- Class notes are nice summary, but arrive late in the week
- Lots of review (due to drawbacks of audio only and no text), but this also insures that students retain more of the information presented
- Respectful of different faiths
- Monthly payments (as opposed to payment in full in spring for fall start)
- Audio only. Students don’t know how to spell unfamiliar names/places (ex. Godfrey de Bouillon). IMO, this makes it difficult to retain information because it’s difficult to remember material that has been presented.
- No text or reference material with a table of contents or index. IMO, this makes it difficult to retain information because it is difficult to reference material that has been presented.
- Class relies heavily on memorization due to no reference materials.
- Little assistance with supplemental literature
- Regular parent and/or student maintenance needed since many ancillary maps, pictures, timelines, etc. are not available until shortly before class time. Even class syllabus is not available until first day of class.
- Mapwork seems totally unrelated to lectures
- Home printer gets a workout
- Free technology challenges (speed dialing in the midst of a call, static on the line, noisy surroundings)
Both Pro and Con:
- Because there is no text and there is a lot of review, the pace of the class is slow. The scope and sequence is a fraction of what a typical history class would cover, imo. OTOH, what the students learn, they retain well because they have repeated it so many times. Having completed Story of the World, I am saddened to realize that my son will not be exposed again to the Crystal Palace, the Opium Wars, samurais, and more.
Overall, I appreciate Scott Powell’s engaging presentation of history. If I could change one thing about the class, I would use WebEx technology in order to have a whiteboard and in order to have the teacher and all the students able to look at a piece of art, a map, a hierarchy, a timeline, or another image all at the same time. It would be more professional, would engage my student better, and would help my student to retain more quickly the information that is being presented. At the same time, I asked my son to rank all his curriculum on a scale of 1-10 at the end of the year. HaoH received a 10. High praise, indeed, from a sullen teen.
Haphazard administration during the 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 years:
- Started 2009-2010 with oral narrations. Had to abandon them eventually because the class got so far behind.
- Both years, class got far behind and had to skip/skim over several topics in order to catch up. End of the year leaves a plethora of work to finish.
- Information/Registration at end of July for September start. Most online providers provide information/registration in February or March.
- Syllabus not provided until first day of class both years.
- During the 2010-2011 school year, Scott had very poor health. He said his poor health was in part due to taking on too much work, so he decided that in 2011-2012, he would provide live classes for only Upper Elementary and High School. At the end of July, however, he decided to provide all levels. This makes me wonder if/how his health will suffer due to overworking again. He is expanding offerings with music and science, but has not organized history so well yet.
- Scott decided to move to Asia in the summer of 2011. After doing so, he decided he could not find a country that was good enough to live in, so he moved back to the US. Makes me wonder if his haphazard administration is a reflection of his haphazard nature.
- Scott started an “Honors” History of the Americas class 1x per week in the 2010-2011 school year, but had to abandon it due to poor health. At least one client had not received a refund 4 months later.
- Occasional rants about the sad state of history education in the US or how people don't understand that this country was established as a republic meant to protect individual rights not a democracy. I think he should share these rants with his wife, his children, his peers, his friends, his acquaintances, but not his students.
- On the HaoH yahoo group: Message #59 (June 13, 2008), “…One reason you might want to join <the mailing list> is that many of the books I recommend are older, used books, with few copies available. For those resources, it's first come first served. And believe me, these books knock SOTW out of the park!”
- In 2009, on TWTM boards, he trashed SOTW. I can no longer find the post. It must have been deleted. Several people pointed out that it’s impolite to trash the forum owner.