G is for…GACE

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 is inspirational and challenging, practical and comprehensive. We have a GACE study group on Yahoo! that goes through Mr. Rose’s study that is comparable to the Self-directed Study from FACE.

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. 🙂

Kindergarten surprises

Okay, I know I said in the lesson plan post that we were just coasting in K this year. Well, Princess S is not a “coaster.” She’s more a force of nature. The more I pondered it the more I came to the conclusion that she would not be happy to just putter around. She needs structure and she needs to be challenged–and she lets me know that quite often.

So the Holy Spirit reminded me today that in Mr. Rose’s book there is a section just for K (starting on p. 165). This section is complete with principles, overviews and lesson ideas. They even included a resource list for each subject. (Math is even planned daily, in chart form, for the first 9 weeks!) And there are gentle reminders about pacing and scheduling the K day (p. 192). I know much of that is for schools, but there is much to be said for scheduling the home school day as well.

I am VERY excited about this because it is exactly what she needs (even though my lazy self wants to take it easy!). And it’s all laid out for me, so I just need to break it down into weeks and with a little preparation I’m ready to go!

The kindergarten curriculum is important because once the child enters the first grade there will not be the same opportunity to lay the foundations in such a full, unhurried and enjoyable way.

James Rose, pg. 167

Step 8: principle 5—the Christian form of our government

This 5th principle may seem tricky at first. You may wonder how on Earth that applies to your personally. Let’s discuss that very thing.

The Principle of Representation

Ex. 18:25-26, Deut. 1:13 (Moses is the first example of this principle).

The Children of Israel chose their own representatives. Rev. Thomas Hooker used this principle in a 1638 sermon that inspired the first constitution in America–the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut.

Christian form of our government

As we have discussed at length in past posts, everything works from internal to external, including the Christian form of our government.

The internal relates to the spirit of the Law. It includes internal government, private property and voluntary union–all of the things we must do of our volition.

The external is the letter of the law, with its rules and structure, including representation, separation of powers and our dual form of government.

Separation of powers

The first full expression was also in the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut. According to Webster’s 1828 dictionary, conscience is:

Internal or self-knowledge, or judgment of right and wrong; or the faculty, power or principle within us, which decides on the lawfulness or unlawfulness of our own actions and affections, and instantly approves or condemns them.

Ms. Slater correlates this definition to the separation of powers individually. We 1) ascertain the duty (legislate), 2) act on it (executive) and 3) judge our actions (judicial). You can imagine what could happen if these powers were unbalanced:

1) seeing what needs to be done and not acting

2) not being diligent or overstepping our bounds

3) being overly critical of ourselves or not holding ourselves accountable

Dual form of government

America is the only nation in the world to have a balance of state and federal powers.

The law and the Gospel are the basis for our form of government.

The end of law is…to preserve and enlarge freedom

John Locke

The law is an instrument of grace, revealing our sin and affording a Saviour.  In the Gospel, God’s love and the Holy Spirit are both indwelling and outworking. Ms. Slater also says that the Gospel is both evangelical and political(p. 56). To read more about that you’ll have to get the book. (You mean you haven’t gotten it already!?) Maybe I’ll post about this later.

This principle applied educationally is as follows:

  • dual form of government: dual levels of responsibility and authority (children over one another, parents over children, God over parents, etc.) There are “two sovereign spheres within one sovereign body of law.”
  • law and the Gospel: class constitution, rules, order, law and love.
  • separation of powers: executing lessons (especially math)–identify, perform, check. Delegate duties to them to perform, allowing them to be in charge, and then allow them to follow the same checks and balances.

Step 8: principle 4—conscience is the most sacred of all property

That’s a mouthful! And it’s also rich in meaning.

  • Property-the exclusive right of possessing, enjoying and disposing of a thing; ownership.
  • Conscience- the principle within us, which decides on the lawfullness or unlawfullness of our own actions and affections, and instantly approves or condems them.
  • Property is a privilege and responsibility (must have Christian character). It is an issue of stewardship.
  • Earlier generations felt conscience was a “distinct possession” (James Madison).

…In a word, as a man is said to have a right to his property, he may be equally said to have a property in his rights…Conscience is the most sacred of all property.

Conscience is both internal and external–thought and action. We can see the evidence of conscience in the behavior of those around us. You can see how the principle of individuality is demonstrated here. We have an individual conscience that speaks to us individually and we are individually responsible for it. We can only teach our children the difference between right and wrong, according to the standards in God’s Word. They are responsible to carry that out. This also implies consent. Conscience, as with all principles, is internal to external. You cannot force conscience. God works it from the inside out.

We had an interesting discussion in the GACE study group on the heart and conscience and how they are related. Here’s a clip from that, with my response:

Q. As we teach these principles and try to plant seeds in their hearts, is this interrelated to conscience? Both(heart and conscience) are internal and both govern our actions and conduct, but is one causative to the other or vice versa? I appreciate your insights 🙂

A. I believe the “heart” is the soul– mind, will and emotions. The conscience and heart work together. They are a sort of circuit, each affecting (and maybe infecting) the other, negatively or positively. When your heart is wicked you will have no conscience, and no conscience will allow you to do all sorts of wicked things. Conversely, a sharp conscience will prick the heart at the slightest infraction and the heart will not desire to do wicked, which keeps the conscience sharpened.

That is why all of these principles must work together to see the full effect in the individual. The conscience is only one part of the equation. The other six principles deal with the heart.

Mr. Rose talks a lot about how the principle applies to external economic property, but you’ll have to get the book for that!

Applied educationally, conscience is developed through stewardship of property, submission to authority, time management and diligence. You can discuss choices and actions, as in the way you choose to live/educate (assignments, supplies, time mgmt. etc.) and the consequences (and rewards) that come with certain choices of conscience.

Step 8: principle 3—America’s heritage of Christian character

The highest example of Christian self-government is, of course, Jesus. Of course He is our model and who we strive to pattern our lives after, hence the “Christian” descriptor.

To be self-governed, we must have the character to sustain it. And to do that we must have these seven principles demonstrated in our lives. To me, this principle should be listed last and be the sum of all the other principles. It encapsulates your life as you put into practice the other 5, with the first (individuality) as the basis.

The expressly peculiar stamp, mark, or character of Christ engraved upon the individual is causative. An effect is a history and heritage of those individuals whose Christian faith and life endured both external and internal conflict and trials. (p. 39)

The source of Christian Character is the Bible, a perfect combination of the Power of the Gospel and the Virtues of Christ. We need look no where else for instruction in righteousness. There is no other text that will so completely and succinctly train you to develop Christian character.

Educational application is sorely needed in today’s culture. There is a tremendous lack of true Christian self-government in America today. Some ways this principle can be applied:

  • provide curriculum “that reveals and teaches Christian character, or the lack of it.” (p. 42)
  • ensure that each subject is “rooted and grounded” in God’s Word so the student sees the standard for righteous living
  • as an educator, lead by example (ouch!!)
  • teach models of Christian character
  • provide lessons and tests that challenge and strengthen the student with reasoning, relating and recording (essays, projects, etc.) instead of fill-in-the-blank, rote memory and multiple choice.
  • afford students the opportunity to exercise authority and self-government in all subjects
  • enable the student to to take responsibility for one’s own character, instead of passing blame. They must accept responsibility for their success or failure.

Why are we so concerned with teaching this principle? Ms. Slater states

This is why it is so vital to explain to new teachers and those who are uncomfortable with thinking governmentally that “while it might look as if we were dealing with the subject of Christian government–actually, we are teaching principles which are basic to every Christian in every area of life. For what constitutes the Constitution is what constitutes the life and character of the people.” Hence, the conclusion that “The qualities of a good ruler (effect) are also the qualities of those who are governed (cause) in a republic.” (T&L, 247)

Step 8: principle 2—Christian principle of self-government

He knows not how to rule a kingdome, that cannot manage a Province; nor can he wield a Province, that cannot order a City; nor he order a City, that knows not how to regulate a Village; nor he a Village, that cannot guide a Family; nor can that man govern well a Family that knows not how to Govern himselfe; neither can any Govern himselfe unless his reason be Lord, Will and Appetite her Vassals; nor can Reason rule unlesse herself be ruled by God; and (wholy) obedient to Him.

Hugo Grotius, 1654

This sums this principle up nicely. We are governed from within. It is our internal thoughts that determine our external actions. If we cannot well govern ourselves then how can we govern any other sphere? This is based on individuality because we are responsible for our own thoughts and actions. It is individual accountability.

God must be at the center or my will and appetite will be immoral (contrary to God’s laws). When He is placed front and center and we reason from His Word, that life and governmental philosophy will flow out to all spheres.

Educationally we apply this principle in that “God’s law is the requirement of the heart.” It is up to God to bring the changes needed for a child to grow into a proper citizen of His Kingdom. Ways we can manifest this principle:

  • accountability for property, thoughts and actions
  • requiring reasonable behavior
  • classroom (and home) environment control
  • all of the things that form the basis for a Christian Republic

To some Christians the idea of “self-government” may have pagan undertones. We are to be governed by Christ. And self-government is “me-centered”. But Christian self-government acknowledges the lordship of Christ and that He is the one aiding us in governing ourselves. He has given us dominion and over and over in His Word He instructs us on how to govern ourselves. He dedicated the entire book of Proverbs alone to instruction on self-government. We are responsible for our own thought and actions (principle 1), so we must take an active role and be self-governed.

Step 7: purpose for, and fruit of, American Christian education

Well most of the reading and discussion for this step I already covered in steps 5 and 6, including defining American, Christian and education. Please refer back to those posts again.

I will add here that we need Christian home schooling because we know best how to teach our own children, with the help of the Holy Spirit. The principles are first applied personally, and the home is the sphere that directly influences our daily lives. God’s original educational mandate was for parents and He intended us to teach our children His principles and Word, so that they will bear the fruit of Christian self-government.

American Christian education shapes my home education in the six ways I listed in step 5. It teaches us to think governmentally:

  • who or what is in control
  • cause to effect (internal to external)
  • Christian idea of God, man and government
  • idea that philosophy of government is a philosophy of education
  • every form of government has a philosophy of education (GACE p. 13)

It affects everything in all of life. Because it affects my thinking and philosophy, it affects the way I move in the world. When I teach my children I am doing the same for them.

When I faithfully apply the Biblical Principle Approach I affect the nation in several ways. I develop children who become good citizens. I am an active member of society, involved in political activities like voting and praying for leaders. I develop children with the character to sustain a Christian republic. I am aware of the problems in the three spheres of life and am able to pray for God’s intervention. If you can think of more, please leave a note and let’s add it to this list.

Step 6: need for an American Christian philosophy of education

Why do we need an American Christian philosophy of education? What makes it unique? Why is it important?

Even though this book was written about 20 years ago, Ms. Dang’s words are truer than ever.

In ignorance, Christians are aiding and abetting anti-Christianity in America. More than any other factor, it is the weakness of Christian character and scholarship that is responsible for this country’s apostacy from its founding Christian principles of education, government and economics. The pagan remains true to paganism. Spiritual backsliding is a believer’s trait, not a pagan’s. The dissolution of Christian character has resulted from generations of unbiblical education among Christian institutions of teaching and learning…It was the Biblical reasoning of the founding father generation that produced the only historical alternative to tyranny and oppression of the individual, which promoted the fullest expression of Christian liberty, rather than pagan license. The Biblical principles that founded America provided for unhindered propagation of the Gospel. Wisdom thus encourages Christians today to identify Biblical principles of civil government as a foundation of their warfare against secular humanistic reasoning. (p. 10, 11)

Katherine Dang

Vocabulary of American Christian Education

Education

Mr. Webster’s definition in his 1828 dictionary is as follows:

The bringing up, as of a child, instruction; formation of manners. Education comprehends all that series of instruction and discipline which is intended to enlighten the understanding, correct the temper, and form the manners and habits of youth, and fit them for usefulness in their future stations.

Christian Education

What makes it distinct from other forms of education? It simply is a descriptive term, meaning “of or pertaining to Christ.” It is education from and about Christ, whose philosophy, curriculum and methodology come from and point to Christ. Let’s view Mr. Webster’s definition of education in light of scripture.

Webster The bringing up, as of a child, instruction; formation of manners. Education comprehends all that series of instruction and discipline which is intended to enlighten the understanding, correct the temper, and form the manners and habits of youth, and fit them for usefulness in their future stations. God’s Word All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. 2 Tim 3:16-17 
1. “enlighten the understanding” 1. “Doctrine” 
2. “correct the temper” 2. “Reproof” 
3. “form the manners and habits of youth” 3. “Instruction in righteousness” 
4. “fit them for usefulness in their future station” 4. “That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” 

A philosophy of Christian education should have a distinctly Biblical and theological basis which separates it and its product from progressive, secular philosophies. Such a philosophy of education, if truly Biblical, has a universal application to all nations and peoples. It can be an instrument to evangelize and govern or disciple Christians in any nation. (p. 13)

How exciting! It is for all nations and all peoples because the principles are distinctly Christian. And can you see how Biblical it is to teach our children from His Word?

Mr. Rose cautions however that is there is only internal change with no change in the other spheres, it is not the fullest expression of God’s idea of government externally. We are to move from the internal to the external, shaping our civil government with our philosophy of education/government.

American Christian Education

What is unique about our country’s original Christian education? Mr. Rose lists 6 distinctions. It teaches:

  • students to think governmentally
  • Providential history and the correlation between Christianity and America
  • Biblical principles that produced our Christian form of civil government
  • what it means to be an American Christian
  • why this nation is unique in the history of Christianity, to the credit of Christ and His church.
  • how to perpetuate America’s Gospel purpose: to extend the Gospel, inclusive of Biblical liberty with law, and Christian self and civil government.

There is a lot of food for thought in this step. God, help me to understand this in a deeper way. And help me to reform my philosophy of education to mirror Yours.

Step 4: what the Biblical Principle Approach is not

This is an interesting topic, no? Here are some things that Mr. Rose highlights are not found in the BPA. (The scriptures I have added to demonstrate these as principles in God’s Word.)

BPA is not:

  • the teacher dominating the subject or student.

But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. John 16:13 If the Holy Spirit is gentle to guide, we are to be also.

  • encouraging adults to copy what any other home or school is doing.

Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. 1 Cor. 4:4-12 We all have unique gifts to bring to our home eudcation.

  • exalting methodology above content, or vice versa.

For {as} the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, And do not return there without watering the earth And making it bear and sprout, And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding {in the matter} for which I sent it. Is. 55:9-11

Jesus is higher than either and we need His help to remember that. They are both tools to learn more about Him.

  • a coating of Christianity and knowledge.

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Mt. 23:27

  • a cover-all, but God all-in-all.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.  John 1:1-4

  • evolutionary but expansive. You can simultaneously teach every subject to every student through every grade, expanding the principles as they are able to receive deeper concepts. In another section Mr. Rose discusses this  on p. 126, quoting Ms. Slater “The message of salvation is not presented in evolutionary manner by degrees, or part by part, nor progressively. The means by which the youngest may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus’ is presented full and complete from the first…The ‘little child’ learns the same Gospel as the advanced student of theology.”

This is applied in the next column when Mr. Rose writes, “The manner in which God brings forth fruit in nature is by infixing (setting in) seed–representative of whole, complete principles.”

We give our little chicks a seed at a time until they are able to handle more. But they receive the same principles, not matter what age or maturity. That’s wy this works for all peoples everywhere. The Bible’s principles are universally applicable. So your whole family can enjoy God’s principles together!

  • instant. There is no microwave to renew your mind, no instant way to conform into His image. This takes a commitment and a lot of investment of time and energy.

There is no expedient way to truly educate–no quick and easy method of producing the kind of character and scholarship able to withstand evil and ‘having done all, to stand!’ (Eph. 6:13)” p. 16

For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. Rom. 15:4

In BPA the subject and student are extensions of Jesus (Author and Governor). I LOVE this concept. Jesus is the focus of every subject at all times. We learn about science and math and HisStory to learn more about Him. The facts come naturally but they are not the focus, Jesus is.

Join us for the study in A Guide to Amercian Christian Education by James Rose.