J is for…Jesus

This letter is the most important in all the BPA alphabet. It is the fulcrum on which everything else is balanced. History—or HisStory—rests firmly on Christ. It is with this knowledge that history comes alive and gives significance to every person, place and event. When we understand that everything is Providential and has an ultimate purpose set for by God, we see innate value in others and in ourselves.

Jesus is the focal point of HisStory.

Image result for jesus focal point of history

All of human time is either looking forward or back to the fullness of His time here on earth. He is the highest example, the most perfect sacrifice, the greatest king. SDG!

[Jesus] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

Colossians 1:15-20

See the rest of the BPA alphabet in the tag cloud

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.

Why teach from Biblical principles?

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.

It’s good to begin at the beginning. You must get to the foundation of a subject in order to master it. Beginning with principles is the first step toward subject mastery.

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.

Gentle BPA

With all the trappings of Biblical Principle Approach–word studies, 4-Ring, notebooks, the Red Books, Rudiments, etc., you can easily get overwhelmed and frustrated. Your idea of home education is not caught up in books and all that research, but in being with your children, learning alongside them. There is a way to do both.

  • Ease into the whole BPA mindset. It takes time and effort to reformulate your ideas of American Christian education, to get a handle on the terminology and to reflect on what you are learning. Give yourself time. How much time? As much as it takes.
  • Take one subject and deal with that. Don’t take the whole homeschooling elephant in one bite. You’ll just pull something and you’ll still be hungry.
  • Don’t make everything formal. You can ease into word studies and literature studies without making a big announcement. It’s okay to just fold these things into your homeschooling day. Pull out the Bible and the 1828 dictionary and just ask a few questions. The children will do the work for you.
  • Lower your expectations. That seems counter-intuitive to BPA philosophy, at least at first blush. But we are home educators, not classroom Master Teachers. We [probably] teach multiple grades with many subjects and to expect to become a Master Teacher in every subject is asking for a breakdown. Just keep ahead of your students. Learn alongside them. Discover things together as you dig into the Word. It’s amazing how lowered expectations can set you free and actually produce better results in the long run.
  • Think of teaching deep, not broad. The principles expand through the grades, so you get deeper and deeper, as Ms. Dang says, going 20 years deep. It’s not a smattering of learning but more like digging a well. A well your children can draw from as they learn to teach themselves.
  • Take one principle per subject per day. No need to overwhelm baby birds with too much food. It will just fall to the ground. One idea to reflect on and discuss will lead to exciting results.

What challenges do you encounter with the Biblical Principle Approach? If you are new to this methodology, what questions do you have?

5 myths of Biblical Principle Approach home education

It is too labor-intensive. Yes, it does require much from the teacher. Everything in life that is worth anything has come about through struggle and toil and patience and diligence. You must internalize the principles in order to teach them. And that takes time. Too much time, it seems sometimes. But in the end the price is small compared to the rewards of seeing your children maturing in the Lord, reasoning effectively form God’s Word and exhibiting Christian character.

It is too expensive. Actually the Biblical Principle Approach is economical. Real literature and other resources can be reused and enjoyed. Compared to consumable programs, BPA is affordable.

It is only focused on American history. It is not. We study the whole Chain of Christianity, that is, the whole timeline. Nothing in His Story happens in a vacuum. Since we study from cause to effect, we study all of history all around the world.

It is classical education. BPA is not classical education after the Greek model. It is considered Biblical classical, after the Hebrew model.

I can pick it up and use it right away. While the Noah Plan from the Foundation for American Christian Education has lesson plans for grades K-3, but is difficult and burnout-inducing to jump in before you have renewed your mind and formed your philosophy of education and at least gotten the basics of a BPA education under your belt. It’s not a race or a canned curriculum. It is something that takes time and effort to implement.

Transitioning to Biblical Principle Approach

BPA is so exciting, so life changing, so excellent that those new to this approach can, in their zeal, overdo things and burnout quickly. It can leave you feeling like you have failed or that BPA is not a fit for you. Because it requires more on the part of the parent-teacher, it takes more time to make the changes you desire to see in your homeschool.

It is not a matter of simply tossing out the old and starting fresh Monday morning. There is a process that will keep you growing, learning, and on track. I cannot stress strongly enough the word transition. It is a process, not a box you open and use right away.

First you must renew your own mind. You cannot teach it until it has been made light to you. Take time to internalize scripture, principles and the ideas of America’s Christian history before you even begin to add it to your lessons.

Then you choose one subject and 4-R that. Leave all your other materials as they are and teach only that one subject BPA. Introduce this new way of learning in history, literature or whatever subject you feel led to choose.

Add one subject each year that you teach from a BPA perspective. Baby steps will prevent burnout. Jumping in and trying to teach every subject this way from the start will leave you exhausted and frustrated.

Keep your standards high and your expectations low. Your children may struggle with ideas and producing their own work. Present one idea per lesson per day. Don’t overfeed and be patient. Let them sit with ideas and wrestle for their own education. They will own it and real learning will happen.

Making small changes over the years will get you where you want to go. Displacing ideas, Biblical reasoning and producing your own work all take time, effort and patience. As long as you understand it’s not a race but a journey, your transition can be a happy and painless one (but not without struggle!).

R Road book giveaway

I haven’t had a contest in a long time and I love this book, so I thought I would give away a copy to a fortunate reader.

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.

5 dont’s of Biblical principle approach

Getting yourself ready for a new year can be exciting and more than a little daunting. In all your planning don’t forget these simple yet important ideas.

Don’t get distracted by mechanics. It is very easy to get caught up in studying and 4-Ring and teaching with leading ideas and principles that we can lose sight of the bigger picture. The way the lesson is structured is less important than whether or not the child learns what you intended. The mechanics will come. Don’t let your lack of mastery stop you from providing excellent lessons for your family in the here and now. You will grow and they will grow and the mechanics will come more easily. And maybe you need to pause and sit together at the feet of the Master Teacher and allow Him to minister to you.

Don’t get discouraged. It is challenging to see your shortcomings and feel confident to teach this method, but you are more than able in Christ Jesus. Diligent study, patience and dedication to Biblical principles will take you far. If you are tempted to get down on yourself, take a deep breath and look back at how far you’ve come. Also keep your eyes on the prize and remind yourself why you are doing this. One thing you can do is to keep a journal of your home education. I love to read what was going on a year or two ago to remind me that we have made some real progress.

Don’t forget to pace yourself. This is not a race, so get off the fast track. We are all in a different place on our journey and it takes us all a different amount of time to get where we are headed. Stop comparing yourself with others. Also don’t forget it’s about the journey, not the destination.

Don’t forget the Holy Spirit. We can only do so much in our own knowledge and strength. We must seek the Lord daily for insight, wisdom and patience. If you are struggling with your temper or your kids just don’t seem to “get it” lately, maybe it’s been too long since you spent time with the Lord.

Don’t overfeed. Baby chicks only need a seed at a time, not a whole ear of corn. Try to avoid the firehose syndrome and go for the IV drip. They only need one principle at a time, one idea to chew on. And don’t demand instant answers. Sometimes they need to get back to you after they have thought a while. Less really is more.

There are so many exciting milestones along the way of growing together in the Biblical Principle Approach. I hope you will make an effort this year to stop and smell the roses. And to seek hard after the Lord.

Step 8: principle 6–how the seed of local self-government is planted

Of course local self-government begins–where else–with the individual. Then it moves to the family, the church, the city, the state and the nation. As the seed is planted in the individual, all other spheres will reap the rewards of it.

As I stated in the post on the last principle, America is the only country in the world with the balance of powers between state and federal governments. Local self-government is unique in its form here in America, creating unique communities all over the country, with their own laws and economic environments. This is individuality in another sense–each community as an individual is distinct from all other communities. And we have the freedom to change our communities or to move to a more desirable area.

What exactly is the “seed” then? It is the principle of self-government, planted in individuals by educating them (internally), and then externally expressed by demonstrating the principles.

What makes self-government “local?” A defined geographic area who govern and finance themselves exclusive of any other area. They choose their own leaders and govern their own affairs, having little dependence on taxes and people from other areas.

Applied educationally, this principle is planted in the students in the way we minister to our children as we educate them, elevating their Christian scholarship and the idea of free individuals. As I inspire my children and cultivate the Biblical intelligence that delights to answer to God and the Holy Spirit, I will begin to see that fruit evident in their lives. I make them accountable for their time, talents and property; help them to take dominion over their environment and become “Lord’s Freeman” and “Christ’s Servant.” (p. 68)

 There is much more he covered about church government and its role in shaping the country, but I could post all day about it, so I am cutting it short. 🙂