“Helping students fall in love with history should be the goal of every history teacher,” says Dennis Bollinger—and he would know! Thanks to two history teachers passionate about their subject and God’s role in it, Dennis developed a love for history that would influence his studies and his life.
Although a Bible major, history minor in undergrad, Dennis began teaching history as a graduate assistant at Bob Jones University while pursuing a master’s degree in church history. He had begun work on a doctorate in the same field when God called him away from BJU to serve as a history teacher, Christian school principal, husband, father, and pastor. But with his own doctoral goals on indefinite hold, Dennis began realizing that each new set of responsibilities was the Lord giving him “another tool in my toolbox that helped me be more effective in the things He called me to do.”
Twenty years later—to the very day—Dennis was able to add another tool to his “toolbox” when the Lord called him back to BJU. He began serving as a University website content manager and a year later resumed his doctoral studies. And in the final stages of working on his dissertation, he was offered a position writing and revising history textbooks for BJU Press.
In the role of history textbook author, Dennis has seen God’s provision for both his passion—church history—and his proficiencies—teaching history and pastoring. As a history teacher, Dennis learned the importance of classroom application, teaching his students to see beyond the names and dates to history’s personal relevance for them. In his pastorate, Dennis gained practical experience in biblical integration, applying the Bible to everyday life situations. But as both pastor and history teacher, Dennis saw the importance of knowing his audience and teaching at their level—a skill imperative to writing successful textbooks.
Dennis makes no claims to greatness in the many ways God has used him but agrees with the prayer of Abraham’s servant in Genesis 24:27, “Blessed be the Lord God . . . [for] I being in the way, the Lord led me.”
Q: Do you have any advice you’d like to pass on to the parents who will be teaching from your textbooks?
A: Two things: 1. Please keep in mind that no matter how thorough we are, one or two typos will always slip through—so please be patient! 2. And no, you do NOT have to teach all the material in every textbook. We specifically include more material than you can possibly get through in one school year and more teaching options than necessary because we want you to have the freedom of deciding how to use the textbook. We want you to disperse the curriculum throughout the year however your child will best absorb it.
Q: How should parents encourage those students NOT interested in history and other cultures?
A:“History is a STORY—not just a bunch of facts or a timeline—and everybody loves a good story!’ Help your children fit the pieces together and see the flow of history. Ask them what they learned and help them see how it applies to their lives. The teacher—whoever may fill that role—is the key and must strive to help the students fall in love with history.
Q: If you could, is there anything you’d go back and change in your career path?
A:I would definitely study on a dual track—history and something else. It’s always a good idea to have a second set of job skills because it will take some of the shock out of hearing the dreaded “your services are no longer needed at this time.” “And families should be raising their children to think this way—sort of three-dimensionally—because the Lord constantly transitions us in and out of things.”
Interested in quality history textbooks for your homeschool? View Heritage Studies textbooks from BJU Press.