The Principle Approach®
While modern education, through methods unproven, attempts to teach students what to think. The Principle Approach® to education teaches the student how to think and places God's Word as the foundation of that thinking.
The primary concern for parents as they consider a school for their children, beyond the basic needs of safety etc, should be "what will be the outcome?" the finished product. What ideas, skills, disciplines, and habits have been implanted within our students which prepare them for the workforce, and the purposes for which God, has designed them?
Today's educational institutions, especially our government schools, are failing to deliver a quality education to our students. We see consistently declining test scores in almost every academic subject and at almost every level of testing.
At the heart of the Principle Approach ® is an acknowledgement of the absolute sovereignty of God and of the dignity and worth of each individual, made in the image and likeness of God. As part of creation, we owe a duty to our creator. Out of this understanding of God, the individual and our duty, two pillars support our model of education.
God is a loving creator who acts providentially throughout history to bring about His purposes and will.
We as are creatures made in the image of God, although fallen, have the ability to reason from foundational principles revealed in His Word and in the “laws of nature.”
God’s Word teaches many specifics, such as "do not murder," but in many cases it teaches principles. In fact, the command do not murder is in fact a principle, because most would believe it does not teach do not kill, but something closer to do not take the life of an innocent. We then have to “reason” from the principle of “do not kill” to determine how it applies to specific issues of life. The Principle Approach ® uses an old-fashioned tool to help us reason from principle to find answers to the questions of life; the method we use is called the 4 R’s:
Research: search primary sources, and the best secondary sources, to find relevant information concerning the topic researched. The preeminent primary source is God’s Word.
Reason: Once we have researched a topic, sought our scripture concerning the topic, defined key vocabulary concerning the subject, read both the best primary and secondary sources concerning the subject, we begin to form principles or key ideas based upon the information researched.
Relate: After we have reasoned from our research, and formed an understanding of the subject, defining principle and/or key ideas, we apply that principle or truth to the issues of the day.
Record: Once we have reasoned to principles or key ideas, which we believe to be objective truth, we than record them, write them down, in order to more fully develop the subject discussed or considered. The step of recording helps us to more fully develop our thoughts and understanding and moves us towards a “mastery” of the subject rather than just a familiarity with the subject.
Again, in education, outcomes is the most important thing. As Christian educators, our primary concern is that children gain an understanding of who God is, who we are, and what duty we owe to God and our fellow humans. Education is discipleship! The graph below is a result of research done by the Nehemiah Institute which sadly shows that the vast majority of Christian young people, regardless of whether they attend a public or traditional Christian school, have a secular worldview.
The PEERS test, administered by the Nehemiah Institute, assesses the worldview of Christian students attending Christian schools, public schools, Principle Approach® schools and home schools. The test is a "biblical worldview SAT," testing students’ beliefs in the areas of politics, education, economics, religion and social issues. The test reveals that a large majority of Christian students, whether in a private, public, or home school fail to have a biblical worldview.
Students in Principle Approach® schools have swum against the tide of a declining biblical understanding of the world around us. Our students are taught the truths of God's Word, how to reason according to that truth and how to apply those truths to all areas of God's creation, including government, history, economics, science, language, and the arts.
The results are students who know God's Word, are able to reason from those biblical principles and to apply them to the issues of our day. Principle Approach® schools disciple students preparing them to be "salt" and "light;" to be "nation changers."