Why do I believe the Principle Approach of American Christian Education
is the best education for high schooling your young person? Because I
have witnessed its effects.
We need a philosophy which enables our children to become highly
educated, vigorous young men and women with strong Christian character
and a confident Biblical worldview.
What Is the Principle Approach?
The Principle Approach is a Biblical method of education used in early
America. It promotes Christian character and reasoning—the same
principles that built America.
Today the Principle Approach is developing young leaders who understand
their place in history and who have a vision for reaching the world for
Christ and His Story. These young people are tomorrow’s hope for the
church, the media, business, and government. They are equipped to
approach current issues from a Christian perspective, to reject the
wrong, and to espouse the right in both private and public arenas.
Getting Ready for High School
High school is when students have the chance to become independent
scholars equipped for life-long learning. In high school, skills basic
to the successful exercise of any calling should be
mastered—communication skills, Christian scholarship, interpersonal and
leadership skills. Talents should become disciplined and aesthetic
The high school program suggested in this article and in the table on
page 28 is an attempt to internalize the Biblical philosophy that lays
“Christ at the bottom, as the only foundation of all sound knowledge and
learning,” which was the original stated purpose of Harvard,, the first
college in America (from “New England’s First Fruits in respect to the
Progress of Learning in the College at Cambridge,” written in a.d.
This high-school curriculum assumes that your students have already
mastered basic arithmetic, science lab skills, physical and political
world geography, English grammar and composition, and two levels of
Latin, and already have the habit of reflective learning and reasoning.
If your children are not functioning at this level, they may benefit
from some “catch-up” work with Principle Approach materials for the
In the Principle Approach, the primary and middle grades have prepared
the student to step into a high school program equipped with the mastery
of skills and the exercise of the character of Christian
self-government. Then you use every community resource available to
supplement and enrich your high school program. You’ll go beyond the
walls of your home and the contents of textbooks to include libraries,
performances and exhibitions of the arts, language and culture
organizations, community sports programs and instruction, tutors,
businesses and professions, travel and field study. An apprenticeship
in a business or profession during the junior year gives breadth and
depth to decision-making for imminent life choices.
To Think Biblically
The Principle Approach is not a canned curriculum, but rather a set of
guiding principles that free the teacher and the student to venture into
the highest and most worthy paths of learning. Teaching and learning in
the Principle Approach become vital, exhilarating, and compelling for
both the parent and the student.
Students educated by this Christian philosophy of education express a
solid Biblical world view. This was documented by the Nehemiah
Institute’s PEERS Test in a 1994 sampling of students across the nation
(see the report in Practical Home Schooling, Summer 1994).
Here’s what one Principle Approach parent, of a son who is now in
college, has to say about teaching high school with the Principle
“How can I summarize the fruit of Principle Approach education? One
evidence has been a now habitual predisposition to think reflectively,
born of years of thoughtful discussions not limited by curriculum
packages, but freed by mind-to-mind interaction where challenges to
assertions could be met with the confidence of teachers who know truth
and whose stance is shared learning.
“Another result has been his internalization of the ability to think
governmentally, tracing all authority back to God for its legitimate
place in his life. Since no one knows in what guise the enemy of our
souls will masquerade his deceptions afresh for each generation, it is
not enough to point out the fallacies of secular humanism, or the New
Age Movement, or any other particular counterfeit of life. The essence
of the teaching philosophy is to cultivate an understanding of
principles—timeless, Biblical, universally applicable principles that
serve the Christian of any generation because they address root causes,
rather than merely reacting to the effects of the pressing issues of the
Go to the Source
“Through his studies, my son learned to require of himself and others
the reference to primary sources as a means of insuring truth, accuracy
and ethical, principled interpretations in his studies. The Christian
History volumes have become valuable, often necessary resources to him
as he finds himself respectfully challenging professors and classmates
who are dependent upon secondary, even tertiary sources for their
academic foundations. A young man nurtured on the journals of
Washington, Jefferson, and Columbus, will not be easily seduced by
fashionable, careless, politically-correct assertions made in textbooks
which are then unquestioningly presented by teachers and blindly
accepted by young adults. When I asked him for a ‘word to the wise’ for
our current high schoolers from his position as a Principle Approach
alumni, he said, ‘Mom, just tell them to bring the 1828 [original
Webster dictionary] and the red books with them to college. They won’t
believe how often they’ll find just the source they need in them!’
“In a culture increasingly overrun with sloppy thinking, knee-jerk
reactions, mindless sensuality, and incoherence at every level, I thank
God that in every generation He does indeed provide a way where there
seems to be no way. Through the Principle Approach, my husband and I
found the avenue for selling all for a pearl of very great price in
claiming all the best for our children in these treacherous times.”
Every educational method engraves some kind of character upon its
students. What quality of character do you want it to be and how do you
insure it? The Principle Approach is for those to whom godly character
WHERE TO FIND IT
Basic resources for the Principle Approach are found in the Foundation
for American Christian Education (FACE) catalogue. You can get a free
copy, along with a “Home Schooling in the Principle Approach” packet, by
calling 804-488-6601. Ask for the booklet entitled “Beginnings in the
Principle Approach.” It introduces the philosophy, method, and
curriculum, and lists the resources and books needed for your Principle
Approach home library.
You may also be interested in Carole Adams’ monograph, “The Christian
Idea of the Child,” available from F.A.C.E., P. O. Box 9444, Chesapeake,
VA 23321, tel: (804) 488-6601, fax: (804) 465-0307.
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