The Principle Approach is an effort to restore to American Christians three vital concepts: the knowledge of our Christian history; an understanding of our role in the spread of Christianity; and the ability to live according to the Biblical principles upon which our country was founded. The Principle Approach is a way of living life, not just a way of educating children.
Developers of the Principle Approach rediscovered seven Biblical principles upon which our country was founded and by which many of the founding fathers were educated. The seven principles are as follows: (1) Individuality (God has created distinct differences in people, nations, etc.); (2) Self Government (Government starts in the heart of man.); (3) Christian Character; (4) “Conscience is the Most Sacred of Property;” (5) The Christian Form of Government; (6) How the Seed of Local Self Government is Planted; (7) The Christian Principle of American Political Union.
Four emphases are unique to this educational approach. First, there is a recognition of God’s Hand (Providence) in history. Second, there is the understanding that God has ordained three governmental institutions (the home, the church, and civil government) through which He unfolds His purposes and manifests Christ on this earth. Third, each Christian is responsible for extending God’s government. Fourth, the student assumes responsibility for learning and for applying knowledge to his own life.
The Principle Approach may be applied to the study of any subject with the use of notebooks to record “the 4 Rs” (Researching God’s Word; Reasoning from the researched Biblical truths/principles; Relating the truths and principles discovered to the subject and the student’s character; and Recording the individual application of the Biblical principles to the subject and the student).
Here are some questions to ask yourself before trying the Principle Approach:
1. Do I have a real concern for the application of Christian principles to my family and my nation?
2. Will my child assume responsibility for a great deal of learning on his/her own?
3. Does my child like to express him or herself through writing?
4. Am I willing to undertake extensive biblical research and teaching preparation?
Strengths of the Principle Approach:
Students learn to think “governmentally”
Students become self-learners
Students learn to apply biblical principles to the whole of life
Students create their own “textbooks”
Weaknesses of the Principle Approach:
Focuses mainly on American history
May present a narrow view of life and of history
Requires a great deal of teacher preparation
Prepared curriculum available in few subjects
Extremely literal approach to Scripture
Resources for the Principle Approach
Teaching and Learning America’s Christian History : A Christian Education Guide for the American Christian Home, the American Christian Church, the American Christian School : The Principle Approach by James Rose. This is the big red book that is the encyclopedia of the Principle Approach. It goes into depth about fundamental concepts and suggests beginning steps in the 4R process for each subject area.