I’m so happy to come to this letter! GACE, or the Guide to American Christian Education by James Rose is my favorite go-to reference for BPA. It is chock full of almost everything you need to get started and stay going. I can hardly begin to list all of what’s in it. It addresses BPA in the home and in home education. There is help planning lessons, basic 4R’ing and other foundational concepts and disciplines. He addresses core subjects, enrichment and some subjects that are hard to come by in any other BPA materials–namely Kindergarten year full lesson outlines, economics and Anatomy/physiology. There are contributions from Katherine Dang and Mrs Ruth Smith, among others. (Did I mention how much I adore this book?)
It’s the way Jesus taught.The Pharisees didn’t like his approach much. They wanted facts, rules. He got to the heart of the matter. He was able to sum up the 10 commandments in two principles. His approach frustrates the flesh but gives life to the spirit. There are more examples of His teaching methods than I can list here but I recommend the book Teaching Techniques of Jesus by Herman Horne.
You can teach multiple levels because you are teaching the seeds of the subjects , so you can easily adjust it for different ages. More seed for older children, little bites of kernels for younger ones.
There is proven success teaching from Biblical principles. America’s founding fathers were educated by principles and were able to reason from God’s word. Their excellent reasoning and ability to form our constitution were a result of their Biblical education.
The subjects are alive in His word and it makes each subject exciting and important when you see how it fits into His Story.
You learn how to learn by beginning with the foundation of a subject. The steps to discovering Biblical principles apply to any subject at any time and carry across the curriculum.
Lisa Hodgen’s new book Freedom & Simplicity on the R Road to Biblical Wisdom: A “How to” Guide to Biblical Learning in Home Education is one of new favorite books. I reviewed it at The Curriculum Choice so I won’t rehash it here. Just know that I think this book gets you where you want to go in your home education journey–Wisdom’s house.
How do you win? Leave a comment about something related to Biblical wisdom–a scripture, a question or just a comment. And please read the review before you enter so you have a good idea of what the book is about. One entry per person please. I will draw randomly from all entries stamped by 9pm CST on August 31, 2009. If the winner does not claim the prize within 7 days another winner will be chosen.
In American society today there seems to be an allergy to excellence, at least to the Christian idea of excellence. On the one hand you have children afraid to look “smart” in front of their peers. and on the other we have the Martha Stewarts working hard to convince us that perfection is possible. Kids are texting and losing what little grammar skills they may have once possessed while they try hard to be “gangsta.” The excellent is, for the most part, not valued or praised or even seen as something to strive toward.
What is the Christian idea of excellence? I submit that it is not simply getting good grades. It is your internal character and not your “book smarts” that make a person excellent. For example, Daniel in the Bible was described as having an excellent spirit in Daniel 6:3. This fueled hatred among the leaders of the land and that’s how he ended up in the lion’s den. He was not excellent because he was the smartest. He was excellent because of his character.
Christians should set the standard in education. American Christians are blessed beyond measure. We enjoy liberty in every area. Nothing has been held back from us. We have to most to be thankful for—and the most responsibility. We should always strive to work toward excellence. God’s idea of excellence. As we become more and more excellent on the inside, our outward fruit will be excellent as well. We will work harder, be more diligent and make more of an effort to be a good example to others, in word and in deed (Col. 3:17).
The point is not knowledge but wisdom and fear of the Lord. As a Christian my goal is not simply to fill my children with facts until they are ready to pop. They must be able to correctly apply knowledge in real life.
My next post will finish up by discussing the process of excellence and applying scripture to our educational goals.
I am hosting a history study here on my blog beginning Monday, April 7. The resources you need are these two books here (click the pics to purchase), along with a Bible. I also recommend a notebook, lots of notebook paper, 8 dividers and a nice pen. Since we use the notebook method in BPA, you know we always need more notebooks!
I will post on the week’s lesson and then (hopefully) you will leave comments regarding the lesson, or link to your blog’s post on the topic. My hope is to generate positive, insightful conversation regarding America’s Christian history as we learnfrom these lessons.
There are 8 lessons, so we will take one each week and discuss it here and at our weekly Thursday night chats. I will add a new topic to my category list to make these lessons easy to find in the future, which is helpful if you can’t study with us right now. I hope you will prayerfully consider joining me for this exciting study.
Notebooks are not a new idea. Many of the founding fathers kept notebooks of their lessons and discoveries. What is so special about notebooks, as opposed to, say, workbooks? I say a lot.
Production. A notebook is not simply a container of a child’s work. It is a tool for learning and self-government. It requires the child to be a producer of education and not a consumer of information. The child is an active part of the learning process.
Developing character. Notebooks are also a tool for character development and an excellent education. These traits include stewardship, diligence, patience, perseverance, faithfulness and satisfaction.
Self-education. The child must learn how to learn, and a notebook will do that. These notebooks are filled with their own thoughts and reasoning. I encourage my children to take ownership of their ideas. When they are comforatable with that concept it will be easy for them to take on more of their own education
Scholarship. The child must write and produce their own work, as opposed to consuming a workbook. They are required to write down their own thoughts and ideas and to do it well. Neatness counts! Standards are a good thing. Children like to know what is expected of them, and notebook standards give them a goal and parameters, which also foster scholarship.
Reasoning. It requires thinking, and sometimes a lot of it, to produce and to learn. I know my kids sometimes act like their brain froze up when they are required to use their “reasoning muscles.” But I also have noticed that my 4th grader has come a long way and doesn’t shut down like she used to. She wrestles hard sometimes to reason out an answer. That is encouraging and wouldn’t happen if I were not using a notebook.
Reference. Hopefully your notebook will be filled with things, especially as they get into the upper grades, that will help them in other subjects and other areas of interest. I know one young lady who came home for a break from college and went to find her French notebook. She said it was to help her in her college class because some of the material was already there, giving her an edge. Another young lady I know has made notebooking such a lifestyle that even though she is out of high school she still makes notebooks for her interests. When she went on a missions trip she created a notebook her whole team could use as a reference, with maps, history and more on the country they were visiting.
Mastery. We are not slaves to the notebook, but masters. It is our tool to use as best fits us. It will help strengthen our weaknesses and highlight our strengths. And also a notebook helps us to master a particular subject.
Individuality. Of course notebooks are an expression of our unique thoughts and are our own intellectual property. My children love to peruse their notebooks from time to time and appreciate all the hard work they have done. They enjoy reflecting on projects and lessons they enjoyed, and also to remind me of things they weren’t crazy about. Some families keep electronic notebooks, some keep more like a scrapbook. There are lots of ways to express your individuality and education. Notebooks don’t simply have to be filled with written papers. You can include CD’s of audio, DVD’s of movies you make, printouts, foldouts and pockets, photos, art of all kinds, the list is really endless. Celebrate your family’e education, don’t just endure it.
The first Biblical principle we study, and the overarching principle as well, is “God’s Principle of Individuality.” This principle can be seen everywhere, and we focus on seeing it in the subjects.
If God cares about individuality, then if we study the subjects individually we are enjoying the distinctiveness of each subject. There is a rich history, diverse vocabulary and important principles that each subject contains. A goal of learning with the Biblical Principle Approach is not fact mastery but subject mastery (through principles).
We are not discussing facts but principles, so multiple grades are able to learn together. There is no need for complicated lesson plans for each child. A little modification and all your children can learn at the same time.
How can we understand the unique vocabulary and rudiments of a subject if they are all lumped together? Each subject has its own language and foundation. It is important for children to learn these in order to master the subject.
When you understand the rudiments of a subject, along with its vocabulary, you are able to see how the subjects naturally overlap and fit together. There are common principles that bring the subjects in harmony and bring a richer appreciation of all the subjects.
For more reading on the subject, these two PDF handouts are available for download.
I have nothing against unit studies per se, I just prefer a distinct subject methodology with natural subject integration. What I mean is I do not rally around a topic but around the principle of a subject. I may pick a certain topic that several subjects will naturally fit into but I do not try to contrive lessons to fit a topic.
Once or twice a year I will do a study on a subject and the subjects will naturally integrate, such as a study on Bach (which we are starting this week). HisStory, geography, literature, English and music are all naturally covered as we read through the book, adding to our enjoyment and understanding of the life and times (and character) of Bach. The subjects add to our understanding of cause and effect, of the things that made Bach who he was. They are not disjointed facts but parts of the whole under the principle of individuality. We see how, where, with whom and when he lived contributed to his character. Along with this study we continue our math, Bible and science separately.
The subjects are beautiful and unique. I don’t want my children to miss out on the treasures that each subject contains.
I hope this post will spark some conversation regarding the topic. I will begin over the next several weeks to go over each of the individual subjects, beginning with history. Our Thursday chat will also correspond to the weekly subject.
In the final part of this series I wanted to end with some practical application, because that’s what I enjoy.
Imagine the classical music playing in the background as you gather your little chicks for a day of lessons. As you finish your opening prayer your little cherub-faced angel is looking up at you longingly for some words of inspiration. You pontificate as your child sits at your feet, enraptured by your wisdom. Yea, right. Let’s get real…
Reasoning with yound children is a little like swimming for the first time. It’s scary but you can’t wait to do it again. You don’t have all the answers (who does??) and you don’t feel fully prepared (you probably never will, honey). The phone rings, the littlest ones get into stuff they shouldn’t and you sometimes have a bad day. How do you manage to carve out some time to reason with your kids?
Another benefit of reasoning from God’s Word with young children is that it really takes the pressure off me. I have one job to do, and it is up to God and my child to do the rest.
My job is simply that of planting seeds. I am to make sure my children have the rudiments, the seeds of every subject. It is not my job to freak out about how they will ever learn all they need to know to “make it in the real world.” No child, no matter how “well educated,” learns everything before they reach the magic age of 18. That’s what living is for, to continue learning and growing.
This quote may help you, as it has me:
When we teach the principles of God’s Word, the rudiments or “bare grain” of any subject, we do not know how the individual will mature or how the body of wisdom and knowledge implanted will be expressed by future generations. But, we are assured if we teach whole, complete principles, and “sow” them in the good ground of a diligent student, that these seeds—will produce fruit ofeter their own kind, and God will give them a body—and identity and individuality—that pleases Him. Careful sowing, watering and weeding cultivated the Truth sown. (A Guide to American Christian Education p. 127)
I do not know what my children will need when they are grown. I don’t even know what I will need tomorrow. But with prayerful preparation, diligence and faithfulness I know I can prepare my children as God would have me to. And that preparation includes reasoning with them from the time they are very young.
It is important to allow your children to reason. These are their property, their own thoughts that they have discovered. When they discover that ability your school time will never be the same. When my children are able to reason, however simple it is, I make a point to remind then that that thought belongs to them. I didn’t gove it to them, they did it on their own. Intellectual property is a powerful force. Any insight they gain through reasoning for themselves can never be taken from them. This will strengthen their faith and their ability to reason affectively with others as they grow up.
There is a philosophy of education that takes the perspective that reasoning is for older children. Younger children are to be filled with facts and enticed to learn with interesting topics and presentation. I don’t happen to agree.
On the surface, this sounds reasonable enough. How on earth can you reason when you have nothing to reason with? You need a certain amount of knowledge to be able to reason, to think things through. So what about reasoning with a second grader? A kindergartener? Is that even possible? I exhuberantly shout YES!!
The beautiful thing about reasoning from God’s Word is that it is God’s Word. It is alive and powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword. It is not head knowledge. It speaks to the heart, to the spirit. A child can hear the voice of God, just as adults can.
In A Guide to American Christian Education, Mr. Rose discusses the seed principle, that is, when you use the Principle Approach you plant the seeds of the whole subject in principles, notdisseminating facts in an evolutionary, fact-based method. You can see in the salvation message that a child and a full-grown adult hear the same Gospel, feel the tugging of the same Holy Spirit and receive the same salvation. It is only the expansion of the idea that is different. It is the same with math, science, HisStory or English. When you are reasoning those subjects from God’s Word then your child, even a young child, can reason at a rudimentary level. The principles are planted and God can grow them into mature plants for His glory.
The most powerful thing I can really say is that I do it every day in my own home. I know that I would have missed out on some wonderful discussions with my children if I had simply been filling their minds with facts and fun. Since we are looking for principles and reasoning together, I cannot imagine doing anything else. And it gets better each year, because they are able to reason deeper and we can take the discussion into uncharted waters. God is good!