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Practical Homeschooling® :

High School with Principles

By Carole Adams
Printed in Practical Homeschooling #9, 1995.

The Principle Approach in high school
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Carole Adams

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 sensibilities cultivated.

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. 1643).

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 earlier grades.

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 Approach:

“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 day.

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 comes first.


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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