What exactly is a principle?

What is a principle? I’m so glad you asked! It is best to start at the beginning, after all. Webster’s 1828 defines it generally as:

PRIN’CIPLE, n. [L. principium, beginning.] 1. In a general sense, the cause, source or origin of any thing; that from which a thing proceeds; as the principle of motion; the principles of action.

In the Biblical Principle Approach, a principle is that from which a subject springs. Principles are the foundation of the subject. It is the seed from which the subject grows. Like a seed, it contains the life and everything needed to grow in the subject.

Where do they come from? In a word, the Bible. All subjects find their origin in God as Creator. He is the source of everything.

What’s the big deal about using Biblical Principles? Well, the point is that you get to the source of the subject, the origin. Also the principles apply to the whole of the subject, helping you form a deeper understanding to (hopefully) master it. It also helps you develop a deeper appreciation of God’s way of doing things when you see how a subject is constructed. You can discover all sorts of things that apply to other areas of life and it can actually make teaching FUN because you are learning as well. It also makes teaching easier on one way. Because your lessons always point to a principle, your learning has a point beyond just filling in a worksheet. It has a greater focus which can help you do more than just get through another consumable book. It has a goal beyond finishing, and to me that helps make teaching easier.

Individuality of subjects

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.

Selected Quotes Concerning the Individuality of Subjects

My personal notes concerning unit studies vs. individuality of subjects

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.

Rudiments Lesson 1 Part 3

Titled “The Importance of The Word of God an all Areas of Life,” this is an especially important lesson. Among the texts are an 1852 sermon by Robert C. Winthrop titled “The Bible,” and writings by Noah Webster.

This lesson was challenging because it forced me to examine my own views on government. It caused me to check where my expectations lie. Do I really trust God as my source, or do I look to civil government? Am I governed by the Bible or the Bayonet? Rev. Winthrop challenges in his sermon the idea that civil government is the source of all man’s needs. He suggests that as the Bible and it’s truths are diffused to the people, His Word will cause His sheep to care for one another. It is our job to feed the hungry, care for the sick and widows and to bring peace.

Rev. Winthrop asserts that all men are governed; it is merely a matter of what are you governed by–the Bible or the Bayonet. The more you rely on God’s word and the fruit of the spirit it cultivates, the less you must rely on external constraints. If we as individuals are not willing to govern ourselves, we will have to be governed by an ever stronger external government. I believe the amount of a country’s external rules and regulations is an indicator of the spiritual health of the individuals within. The more a body of people is internally governed (by the Law of Love–Christ), the less the “bayonet” is needed, hence, a freer society.

Mr. Webster states that the “principles of liberty are drawn from the Bible.” He states:
The Bible is the chief moral cause of all that is good, and the best corrector of all that is evil, in human society; the best book for regulating the temporal concerns of men, and the only book that can serve as an infallible guide to future felicity.
He also states that scriptures are to be the “guide of human reason,” which articulates the notion that our conscience is shaped by the Word of God. Without it, we have no compass for morality or practical reasoning.

Internal and external government are inseperably interwined. They will pull against one another. It is my goal to see that, at least for my family, internal government always wins.

To enroll in Rudiments, please contact Pilgrim Institute.

Rudiments Lesson 1 part 2

Okay, I got to the end of tape 1 early last week (still the intro to Rudiments), which is no small task, considering what a challenge it is to carve out time for it amid the music practice and school and housework and family time and church responsibilities. But I’m not complaining because it’s been great. I’m gleaning so much from Ms. Smith. She is so full of the Principle Approach that it just comes out of her pores. I want to be like that one day. Here are some highlights. Again, not even the tip of the iceberg, but you can get an idea of what I’m learning (hopefully!).

We as individuals are responsible for the character of our republic because much is required of the individual. Self-government, independent reasoning and reasoning from God’s word produce responsible and productive citizens.

My philosophy of government directs how I teach and what I teach, not the other way around. How I view government (who or what controls me) dictates how I will view education. What I am to teach is a proper concern but I must begin by determining my philosophy of government, for there lies the key to education.

Who or what controls me–>philosophy of government–>philosophy of education–>what I will teach.

Joshua 4:1-3 tells the Children of Israel to have an answer when their children ask about the memorials, “What mean ye?” They were to be quick to tell them about God’s faithfulness and watch care over them. There is an appalling lack of appreciation of our Christian heritage in America today. We are to restore to our children their heritage as American Christians (no matter what our race may be. We are all Americans and can claim that heritage for ourselves.). Like the Jews and other ancient cultures, our heritage is rich in traditions, holidays and stories. I was thrilled to think about this idea. It is okay for me to teach my children about their heritage as American Christians. And more than that, it is my duty to do so, to restore those ideals that first brought the pilgrims to these shores.

One thing I really liked was when she spoke of her family. She said that when hard times came, they did not look to civil government for help, but they turned to the Lord. Their children were trained to seek Him to meet their needs and the mantra at their house became, “What prayers did God answer today?” WOW! That’s inspiring to me. Training them up to fear the Lord and to trust Him–is there any greater legacy?

PI Rudiments lesson 1 part 1

I thought I’d update on the Rudiments course I’m taking from Pilgrim Institute. It’s a correspondence course, which can be even better than a seminar because you have time to really digest what’s being said and formulate your thoughts to submit for feedback. Of course I’m not nearly to the point of answering questions for even lesson one yet–and there are lots of them…The first section consists of 4 lessons and comes with a binder, notes/handouts and 4 cassettes. It outlines the course and gives details like how to send in your lessons. When you complete the course (11 lessons) they send you a certificate of completion and an album to put the cassettes in.

  • Lesson 1:–the American Christian vocabulary (lots of definitions!)–Why a course in Rudiments of America’s Christian History and Government is needed–The importance of the Word of God in all areas of life (Along with the 12 or so definitions she gives in the lecture, there is a list of 44 words to define, among other reading and question answering)
  • Lesson 2:–Providential approach to history
  • Lesson 3:–the pilgrim story
  • Lesson 4:–How to use the two basic volumes of America’s Christian history and gov’t

I’m listening to each tape twice because she gives so much information I can’t get it all in one dose. I began with the list of definitions and got halfway through the 44 words from Webster’s 1828 dictionary. I arranged my notebook with dividers for each of the 7 principles and other topics she will be covering.

When I was listening last night I got half of the tape done because I had to stop it so many times. She says so many great things I wanted to get them down verbatim. That was so good. Some things she said that I want to highlight follow here.

  • Why America’s Christian History? Because all people, not just Christians, benefit.
  • Is America better than other nations? NO! Can other nations have a Christian history too? YES! “America took principles from the Word of God and reasoned from them in their lives and it brought forth a nation in its form of government; in the acknowledgement of individual liberties that has been done by no other nation.” Any other nation can put their name there–France’s Christian History, Kenya’s Christian History–if they will simply reason from the Word of God and relate its principles to their nation.
  • We must think in two spheres: internal and external. Everything works from internal to external, from cause to effect. History must be viewed in this light. We must look to men’s tcharacter and how that affected their actions.
  • Government begins internally. When we hear the word “government,” we should think about internal, not civil, government. The founding fathers understood that distinction and we must renew our minds to that idea also. What is important is being internally governed/self-governed (by God’s Word), not externally governed.
  • History is God’s autobiography. It tells His story through the actions of men (cause and effect).
    Webster’s definition of education doesn’t list anything about school or academics. It deals with the internal–instruction, formation, discipline, enlighten correct. These internal things are vital. Of course studies are important but they must be “fit for usefulness in their proper stations.” In his example at the end of the definition he makes his thoughts known concerning education: religious education is paramount.
  • Why has Christian ministry increased and quality of society decreased? Is it because we have forgotten something? That is a question to ponder and 4-R.

She said so many other things that I could write on all day but I want to give you some insight into the course and the kinds of things she addresses. If you want to order the course or want to ask questions, contact Pilgrim Institute (scroll to bottom of page).