The Principle Approach method of education is the manner of consistent and ordered teaching and learning that produces Christian character and self-government, Christian scholarship, and biblical reasoning for lifelong learning and discipleship.
The notebook method is an essential component to the Principle Approach that governs the teacher and student in their participation in each subject. It establishes a consistent tool and standard of Christian scholarship. The learners are producers as they build their own daily record of a subject, taking ownership of the learning process. The notebook method embraces the four steps of learning: research, reason, relate and record. It aids in the biblical purposes of education by “enlightening the understanding, correcting the temper, and forming the habits of youth that fit him for usefulness in his future station” (excerpted from the Webster’s 1828 Dictionary definition of education). The notebook method is the product of the student’s creativity and a permanent record of his productivity. It assists parents and teachers in overseeing progress and visually demonstrates the character development, diligence, and responsibility of the student.
- Curriculum is structured by the pursuit of information and its regurgitation. Glorifies man and his knowledge.
- Produces no record of learning — papers are discarded, workbooks destroyed. Student has no sense of value for the effort. Parents are uncertain of what is being taught.
- Produces the ability to take short answer tests with a “recognition” mentality. Students parrot back the “right” answers for the A on the test.
- Discourages a lifelong enjoyment of learning.
- The burden of learning rests on the teachers!
- Curriculum is structured by biblical principles and leading ideas. Glorifies God as the Author of the subject.
- Produces a permanent record of learning. Student values his labor and is able to refer back to his study. Parents see what is being taught and required, and supervise the child’s progress.
- Produces reflective understanding. Essay tests require an understanding of principles and concepts. Students reason for themselves and solve
- Produces philomaths — people who love and pursue a lifetime of learning.
- The burden of learning rests on the student!
In every subject at every grade level, the student is required to actively participate in his learning by:
- Researching the subject, word or study
- Reasoning through identifying the leading idea and basic principles
- Relating it to other areas of study and the world around them
Reasoning from recurring biblical principles and leading ideas, every study draws out a leading idea that relates to one or more of the seven basic principles built on God’s Word. The seven principles (see below) are the documented source of America’s Christian founding as identified in The Christian History of the Constitution of the United States of America: Christian Self-Government, Vol. I. Each principle builds on the one before.
Reflective learning — the student internalizes principles that shape his thinking and behavior— internal to external.
Keyword study — using Noah Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language, students study the meanings of words defined whenever possible from the Bible, their original root and etymology, and research the meaning of other words found in the definition. Through this study, students truly understand the word and gain the ability to articulate an idea, acquire mastery of the English language, and learn its application to history and today.
Fine arts and liberal arts emphasis — building the person from the inside out re quires the teacher to encourage the student’s creativity, talent, gifts and inherent skills, seeking each one’s unique purpose in Christ.
The classroom constitution — instills Christian character and conscience by empowering the student to take responsibility for his own learning and the learning environment where he contractually agrees to practice self-government.
Mastery learning — repetition of basic recurring principles at every grade level, continually applying age-appropriate methods to enable the student to internalize and understand his subject of study.
The Seven Principles:
- God’s Principle of Individuality
- The Principle of Christian Self-Government
- The Principle of Christian Character
- Conscience is the Most Sacred Property
- The Christian Form of Our Government
- Planting the Seed of Local Self-Government
- American Political Union
This article is from the FPEA Guide to Homeschooling in Florida. It was adapted from a posting on the Foundation for American Christian Education Website (www.principleapproach. org/?page=pa_characteristics — accessed September 19, 2011).