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The Art of Public Speaking Review by Erica Beyea

Beth Hempton and Dana S. Wilson
Train Up a Child Publishing, LLC
1342 Oak Mill Court
Mount Pleasant, SC 29466

Communication is an essential skill; yet for many young people in our technologically centered society, it is quickly losing its value. Often young people, skilled at popular non-verbal interaction, find it difficult to share their thoughts or speak distinctly on many subjects. Even most adults admit to a fear of public speaking. Home school students often encounter even more of a struggle in this area due to not having the opportunity to give presentations in front of a classroom of peers.

Train Up a Child Publishing has created a literature-rich curriculum with an integrated approach to learning history and Language Arts. As a part of that curriculum, this high school course, The Art of Public Speaking, is a one semester class that seeks to equip the high schooler to not only effectively speak in a public setting, but also learn to present research and defend their faith. This is a Christian based curriculum, that not only studies renowned speeches in history, but also examines Apologetics and heroes of the faith who have effectively defended Christian beliefs.

The fifty-page coil-bound book includes both student and teacher instruction. There are four topics studied: impromptu speech, expository speech, persuasive speech, and apologetic speech. The book calls for the student to complete four impromptu speeches over the entire course, hopefully improving on each one as they acquire more skills. The other three areas are each given a 4-6-week timeframe to complete. Included are some suggestions for the teacher to enhance the course, making it worthy of an honors credit with some extracurricular assignments if desired.

The final twenty pages of the book are resources that apply to all four types of speech, and often throughout the lesson plans, students or teachers are directed to refer to one of these appendixes for further detailed instructions. Students may choose topics that interest them personally, or select from the list of suggested topics in the book. Teachers are given rubrics and detailed guidance on grading the speeches and critiquing the student presentations.

We have used this book several ways already in our home. As an adult who is not only a home school teacher, but also a Sunday School teacher, I have found many interesting and helpful nuggets of instruction in this course. The step-by-step instruction on using notecards, even down to the finest detail of how to handle yourself as a speaker when you drop a notecard, was extremely beneficial. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the encouragement that many people shake when standing to give an oral presentation, as well as the assurance that with practice and experience, this ‘habit’ would likely improve.

I have several students who have implemented this course – both my high schooler and my older daughter, who is taking public speaking in college. The opinion of both girls is that the course is very linear, equipping the student for public speaking in a very practical and orderly fashion. It teaches principles, but allows the student the liberty to fill in the details and make the course fit their specific situation. It also allows plenty of room to tailor the course to the student’s interests. I think the lesson on Apologetic Speech alone is worth the price of this course, especially for a high school student who is planning on entering college or the work force, and is interested in learning how to sensibly and effectively defend their Christian beliefs.

When reading and using this book, one thing we found a bit confusing is that the teacher and student materials are not separated, but fused together on each page. One paragraph is addressing the student, and the next paragraph is directed to the teacher. Often it took extra focus, especially for the students, to decipher what instruction was specifically theirs. Although this is a small issue, and doesn’t affect the overall quality of the course, I think we would have found it easier if the teacher and student materials were separate in the book.

Overall, I think this course is very thorough, chooses four very diverse types of public speaking situations and meticulously teaches a student how to conquer them, and has a wonderful Christian based approach to the art of Public Speaking, written at a high school level. I highly recommend this course and am very satisfied with the results and growth we have seen in our family due to studying the principles of this course.

The Art of Public Speaking is currently being sold on the publisher’s website for $43.97.

-Product review by Erica Beyea, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, April, 2017