History is the one homeschool subject I continue to study as a family in our homeschool, even as my kids enter their high school years. Unfortunately, it is hard to find quality secular homeschool history programs that challenge my kids to think carefully without presenting easy or ideological answers.
And that is why I am so excited about a unique, brand-new online history course, The Nomadic Professor. Not only is it a fantastic option for a secular homeschool history course, but it includes critical thinking and historical research skills that will challenge homeschool students.
This post contains affiliate links. Please read my full disclosure.
The Nomadic Professor offered me access to their US History courses in exchange for my opinions. I assure you that I accepted this offer because I was excited about this option for secular homeschool history.
In fact, I was most excited about the ways the creators, Dr. William Jackson and Nate Noorlander, approach the study of history. They teach students to think like historians and develop a degree of “healthy skepticism.”
Combine their methodology with engaging videos and challenging assignments and you have a great recipe for a fantastic year of history.
Online Secular Homeschool History
The Nomadic Professor History courses are engaging and challenging and taught without a particular religious or ideological point of view. In fact, The Nomadic Professor website contains a post, “Whose side is the Nomadic Professor on?” which explains their point of view when telling the story of history:
“…when we get asked whether our courses are “neutral.” The answer is always “yes” and “no.”
- Do we avoid ideology and dogma? Yes.
- Is it possible to write and speak from a POV-less POV, or a completely neutral place? No.
We can only write the narrative we find convincing based on our research and experience. There is no “view from nowhere.” We work hard to address this reality by being forthright throughout our courses: we constantly remind students that they are reading an argument, not an authoritative, voiceless textbook, posing as The Final Answer. Further, we actively and rigorously train them in how to identify evidence and challenge conclusions, even our own evidence and conclusions, while avoiding the unnecessary headache of pretending that “all answers are equally valid.”
This explanation is exactly what I am looking for in a history program so I was extremely excited to find The Nomadic Professor for our family to use when we study US History in the future!
Overview of The Nomadic Professor Course Options
Created by Dr. W Kesler Jackson (AKA: The Nomadic Professor) and high school teacher, Nate Noorlander, The Nomadic Professor’s history courses contains mini-video lessons which are filled on location, bringing history to life in a unique way.
The video lessons are combined with text/readings, quizzes, document lessons, and a research project in order to present a complete history course. For students who prefer an audio experience for learning, all of the text is available as an audio file at the start of each unit topic.
The Nomadic Professor currently offers American History with plans to add World History, Western Civilization, and Asian History courses over time.
The Nomadic Professor American History offers a complete look at US History in four courses:
Part 1: Pre-Columbian Americas to the Ratification of the U.S. Constitution
Part 2: Washington’s Presidency to the End of Reconstruction
Part 3: Custer and Crazy Horse to Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Part 4: Cold War to the War on Terror
Students are encouraged to work at their own pace, but the average rate would be completing 2 parts per year of high school to earn a full history credit.
In addition to these history courses, The Nomadic Professor offers two specialty courses for high school students. Students can take either of these elective courses to earn a half credit.
Helpful Free Resources at Nomadic Professor
In addition to the history courses you can purchase for the school year, you can assess a free course on the history of free speech and a helpful Logic and Rhetoric PDF:
Logic and Rhetoric PDF – This helpful document is available free to subscribers to The Nomadic Professor newsletter (scroll to the bottom of the home page to sign up and receive this freebie)
The History of Free Speech (1/2 high school credit) – “How well do free speech values hold up in the internet age? Is vulgar speech “free speech”? How can speech be violent, if indeed it can be? Is “cancellation” censorship? How should new technologies impact old assumptions about free speech? Are these questions new?”
A Closer Look at American History, Part 1
Each history course is broken down into units. The first American History course contains 10 units. Each unit begins with an overview lesson that contains timelines, maps, and general information to help the student become familiar with the context of the lessons. These overviews contain summaries of the lessons ahead as well as all of the printables that will accompany each lesson.
Each unit contains 4-6 individual lessons that approach history from the point of view of asking questions. For example, in Unit 7 (The Colonial Experience) students will find that each lesson explores the answers to questions such as, “Did the crown play a direct role in governing the colonies?” and “What was the English Common Law.”
The individual lessons are a combination of text and video with many lessons consisting of a short reading selection. Handouts for guided note-taking are provided so students can record information for better learning. Quizzes are included in each lesson to assess student learning.
Finally, each unit includes a document lesson that adds an important element to The Nomadic Professor History courses. These lessons teach students critical thinking skills through the lens of history. Students might compare primary documents or look at various perspectives from different textbooks on a topic.
In unit four, the students will take a look at sources as they explore the question, “Does Thanksgiving celebrate the Pilgrim’s triumph over socialism?” which is a question that apparently makes the rounds sometimes during Thanksgiving in the USA. In this lesson, students will look at differences in the political parties while evaluating sources. They will also learn to evaluate website sources for reliability and accuracy.
The document lessons teach so much more than the answer to the question being explored. Through these lessons, students are learning how to think critically, research, and evaluate sources. These aren’t simple lessons so you should plan to spend some time on them.
The final document lesson in American History, Part 1 answers the question, “What does a good research question look like?” so students can begin to lay the foundation for a research project that continues in American History Part 2.
Reasons to Choose The Nomadic Professor
There are so many great reasons to choose The Nomadic Professor as your secular homeschool history curriculum, but these are some of the reasons I am most excited about using it in the future.
Easy to Use Online Format
I love the online format of this program. It is easy to access and find what you need. The navigation is smooth and it is easy to find what you need. Links to handouts and scoring rubrics are highlighted and easy to find as well.
Unique, Engaging Videos
There are a variety of video types in The Nomadic Professor courses. Sometimes it is simply a lecture in a classroom, but often times The Nomadic Professor is on location at the very spot when historical events took place.
The videos occasionally have pop-up images of important people, maps, or vocabulary terms. In addition to providing helpful information, I think this keeps the videos feeling fresh and interesting as you watch them.
NOTE: Not every lesson includes a video. Many lessons are a reading selection for students.
Guided note sheets are provided with each lesson to assist students with note-taking as well as information retention. Each guided note pack includes open-ended questions, charts to complete, maps, space to record summaries in your own words, and more.
I appreciate that there is a variety of ways for students to record information as they read or listen to the videos.
Adaptable for Different Learners
Advanced Course: The Nomadic Professor History Courses offer a variety of options for secular homeschool history. Students can participate in the full course as it was designed and be completely prepared for the AP US History test or the CLEP US History 1 and 2 tests. In addition, students who complete all four American history courses in two years could include half-credit electives such as logic and rhetoric, American Literature, or historical methods.
Review the potential credits on the FAQ Page
Standard Course: This pathway through the course doesn’t include all of the lessons but does include the document lessons and research paper.
Basic Course: This pathway through the course is for students who want to focus on the historical content but not include a research paper and additional information on historical literacy. Students would not complete all of the document lessons and they would not write a historical research paper.
More details and information about the various pathways are included in your instructor’s handbook which is linked in the overview of the course.
Of course, like all homeschool curricula, you can continue to modify it and adapt it to your family’s needs. I am a fan of curricula that offers above and beyond what is required for a “history credit” so that our family can explore it at a deeper level if we want.
Teaches Critical Thinking Activities
I love The Nomadic Professor’s approach to history as a series of questions to explore rather than chapter titles in a textbook. It’s a small switch but right away communicates part of the philosophy of this program – to teach students to think critically.
Then the program supports this goal with the document lessons which continue to guide students through the process of analyzing information, checking sources, understanding bias, and so much more.
There are so many more reasons I love The Nomadic Professor and I look forward to using it in our homeschool for a convenient and challenging secular homeschool history course.
Best of all, right now you can receive 20% off any recurring subscription with the code: Nomadic20 so this is a fantastic time to check out The Nomadic Professor. This coupon expires on 7/31/23 so be sure to check out The Nomadic Professor today.
Nomadic Professor Giveaway
Be sure to enter The Nomadic Professor Giveaway. The giveaway is open (7/17/23) and 2 lucky winners will receive specific course access.
The first winner will receive a year subscription to all courses [value $360]. The second winner will receive their choice of a single course: American History 1, 2 or 3, or Media Literacy [value $249]
- Engaging Curiosity with Microscope Science in Your Homeschool - February 14, 2024
- Adventurous Hunger Game Literature Study Field Trips - February 2, 2024
- The Secret Garden: A Graphic Novel Book Review - January 29, 2024