The next letter in our alphabet is fundamental, not just to biblical principles or to home education, but to all of life.
Individuality is where it’s at. It’s our relationship with God. It’s the biblical principle from which at the others spring. It is what gives us liberty in home education and in life. Independently dependent upon God. As we understand individuality as God intends it our relationships flourish, our liberty grows and our faith deepens.
Once we are able to truly be what God designed all the masks come off. Once we shake off conformity to the world and embrace independence in Christ we can enjoy life as God intended. It is not easy but it is immensely rewarding.
This doesn’t mean we don’t lean on others or seek relationships or guidance. Far from it! God’s Principle of Individuality helps us form tight bonds. Embracing others in their uniqueness and pulling on their strengths only serves to benefit a relationship. We add to one another and we celebrate the differences.
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.
I know my own principles to be pure and therefore am not ashamed of them. On the contrary, I wish them known and therefore willingly express them to everyone. They are the same I have acted on from the year 1775 to this day, and are the same, I am sure, with those of the great body of the American people.
Thomas Jefferson in a letter to Samuel Smith, 1798
1. Separation of powers
The regular distribution of power into distinct departments; the introduction of legislative balances and checks; the institution of courts composed of judges holding their offices during good behavior; the representation of the people in the legislature by deputies of their own election… They are means, and powerful means, by which the excellences of republican government may be retained and its imperfections lessened or avoided.
2. Dual form of government
Seldom today do we hear mentioned one of the most unique aspects of our Constitution—our dual form of government—the state and the nation. This refers to the national-federal structure of our Constitution. There is not a country today on the face of the globe that embodies this Christian principle of government—and we ourselves have allowed it to deteriorate.
Slater, R. J., & Hall, V. M. (1975). Teaching and learning America’s Christian history (American Revolution Bicentennial ed.) (242). San Francisco: Foundation for American Christian Education.
3. Negative rights
The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government – lest it come to dominate our lives and interests.
4. Religious liberty
It cannot be emphasized too clearly and too often that this nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religion, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ. For this very reason, peoples of other faiths have been afforded asylum, prosperity, and freedom of worship here.
5. Representative Republic
Modern times have discovered the only device by which the equal rights of man can be secured to wit: government by the people, acting not in person, But by representatives chosen by themselves…
A representative government, responsible at short intervals of election, produces the greatest sum of happiness to mankind.
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?
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.
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!).
I am not going to list all the questions from T&L here because it is copyrighted material. I will list my answers and discuss ideas but I am not going to copy and paste all the lessons. That wouldn’t be ethical (or legal!). It is up to you to go through these lessons yourself and answer the questions and do the reading.
What is a Leading Idea?
It is an idea that leads the reader down a certain line of thinking, toward a Biblical Principle. Leading ideas get you to think and not simply regurgitate facts. They help you to form your own thoughts on a topic.
Thoughts From the Leading Ideas
America is associated with the “principle of individuality” because we were founded upon Biblical principles, this being one. Without a Christian basis, the “principle of individuality” goes away. It is a distinctly Christian idea, so if the basis is removed the idea of the individual is replaced with a socialist one.
The socialist form of government is oppressive and over reaching as it demands conformity, redistribution and dependence upon the state in lieu of individual responsibility. This is what the founding fathers understood and worked to avoid. Their knowledge of God’s Word and His plan for human government helped the founding fathers to form a government that would maximize the potential of the individual without exploiting him for the state’s benefit.
To begin our study of America’s Christian History we must discuss some basic ideas.
The Christian Idea of Man
The Christian idea of man is the basis for our form of government. It is also the foundational principle that the other 6 principles of America’s Christian History and Government. It is the idea that man is created in God’s image as a unique individual. All men are therefore created equal with independent value. This is a wonderful principle to meditate on. If we are unique, equal and have value, then the state is servant to us and not master.
The Purpose of Government
The state was created for man, not the other way around. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are rights from God and the responsibility to keep them is delegated to the state. Today this weighty task is not respected by federal government, but rather it is becoming more and more irrelevant. Our government (state and federal) is moving more toward a pagan idea of government.
The Pagan idea of Man
To the pagans (pagan meaning those who are not Christians) is that man has value as related to the state. The state has all the power to control, not protect, our liberty. We also have a society that looks to the state as keepers or even dispensers of liberty. It is a socialist idea that pervades our society today. Our citizens have not been educated on the Christian idea of man so we should not expect anything different.
I will go into more detail on the Leading Ideas (step 2) in the next post.
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.
PrincipledMom™is not a club. It’s not a label. It’s not a status symbol.
We are a community of like-minded moms who love our families and desire to provide our children with the best education possible–one rooted in the Word of God.
Because BPA is a philosophy, it affects every sphere of life–individual, home, church, city, nation, globe. We must make every effort to live a life of consequence, so the term of endearment was coined: PrincipledMom™
PrincipledMom™ is a mom who:
enjoys and celebrates her individuality
makes every effort to put God first
understands she is not perfect and doesn’t pretend she is
looks to the Holy Spirit and God’s Word to guide her in all things
works hard to live a life of integrity and humility
teaches her children using the Biblical Principle Approach
With the Lord’s help and commitment to His call, we can each provide an excellent education for our children. “What He calls us to, He equips us for.”
What is BPA?
BPA is short for Biblical Principle Approach, a method of Biblcal reasoning that places the Word of God at the center of every subject.
It is a governmental way of thinking, that is: who or what is controlling, directing, regulating or restraining?
It is a lifestyle of scholarship and Christian character.
It is a Biblical method of education, similar in execution to the Hebraic model.
It develops young men and women who are able to reason from God’s Word for themselves.
It is distinctive in its commitment to American Christian education.
It highlights His Story, a recognition of Providential history.
For more details, please Say Hello and feel free to visit here.