Pilgrim Institute Training Opportunities
Developing an American Christian Curriculum
Winter Garden, Florida
$325 — Registered by June 5, 2017
$350 — Registered after June 5, 2017
How does your family make summer memorable and meaningful? To encourage summer learning, the following article comes to you from the Pilgrim Institute archives.
In the summer of 1984, Verna Hall and Rosalie Slater of the Foundation for American Christian Education gave children an opportunity to do special projects which would help form the same Pilgrim character traits that built Plymouth Plantation and strengthened the colony to “survive in the American Wilderness.”
More than just a suggestion for your family, this article brings to you a treasure—the words of Miss Hall and Miss Slater; words which will inspire you with a love for learning, recognition of divine Providence, and the beauty of the Principle Approach to American Christian Education.
Dear Children and Parents:
DEVELOPING A FACT BOX
Noah Webster in his American Dictionary of the English Language, 1828, defines the word fact as follows:
FACT: (From the root of to make or do)
Recording Useful Knowledge
When young Jules Verne was having a difficult time, he found the public libraries of Paris a warm place. Here he began his extensive reading in the natural sciences. In his lifetime, he wrote 20,000 data cards of facts. His excellent memory and imagination allowed him to make use of this knowledge in the writing of his many books of adventure. Because Jules Verne endeavored to be careful and accurate in his research, one hundred years later in America when the Apollo 9 Spacecraft for the manned space flight to the moon was built, it was the same weight and height as that used in Jules Verne’s novel Journey from the Earth to the Moon. Even more remarkable was the fact that the splashdown of Apollo 9 in the Pacific Ocean was about 2 ½ miles from the point which Jules Verne had calculated from his research one hundred years before!
Today we American Christians have become careless with our habits of learning. We live in an age when there is much to learn yet for the most part, we fail to organize our knowledge. That is the purpose for a Fact Box. Go to the stationery store and find a box—not smaller than one which could hold 4” by 6” cards. You may want a larger card to work with. You should also purchase a set of alphabet cards so that you can file and organize your facts alphabetically. Every time you learn some new and important fact, write it on a card with a brief line or two to indicate the source of your information. By filing it under a proper letter, you will be able to find your information and add to it. As you read about persons, places, things, which are important for you to remember, decide how you want to classify the information so that later you may refer to it quickly.
Perhaps you have been reading a biography about Clara Barton, the founder of the American Red Cross. Perhaps you have just learned about John Chapman, known as Johnny Appleseed and the beautiful Ohio country where he planted so many apple trees. You could classify him under the word apple, or Ohio, or under his own well-loved name of Jonny Appleseed. Plan to unify your knowledge so that as you learn more and more about America’s Christian History you can bring in many people, places and events that relate to the uniqueness of our country.
God’s Creation is an area which is so full of wonderful studies that, hopefully, you will be adding to your knowledge and appreciation all the time. Streams, ponds, rivers, and the Oceans afford many sources of learning. As students of the Principle Approach, we seek to find the unifying principles by which many diverse plants and animals are drawn together. This is certainly true of the life of a pond, or the tide-pools at the seashore. The more we can relate the facts we see before us to the unifying principles that govern, the more certain we will be able to learn God’s Laws governing the particular area. This is, of course, true of the forests and the desert lands, and tropical and arctic regions. The study of an area should bring us closer to the Nature and Character of God.
When Matthew Fontaine Maury, Christian founder of Oceanography, published his The Physical Geography of the Sea and its Meteorology in 1855, he caused many men who had spent their lives at sea “to look about us, and see by what wonderful manifestations of the wisdom and goodness of the great God we are continually surrounded.” As Captain Phinney of the American ship Gertrude continued to testify of his closer look into “the wonders of the great deep” as a result of studying Maury, we can see the relationship of his words to our own lives:
“For myself, I am free to confess that for many years I commanded a ship, and, although never insensible to the beauties of nature upon the sea or land, I yet feel that, until I took up your work, I had been traversing the ocean blindfolded. I did not know the amazing and beautiful combination of all the works of Him whom you so beautifully term ‘the Great First Thought.’
“I feel that, aside from the pecuniary profit to myself from your labors, you have done me good as a man. You have taught me to look above, around and beneath me, and recognize God’s Hand in every element by which I am surrounded. I am grateful for this personal benefit. Your remarks on this subject, so frequently made in your work, cause in me feelings of the greatest admiration, although my capacity to comprehend your beautiful theory is very limited.”
There are also many places to visit—some probably quite close to where you live—which have some connection with our history, our literature or with our present life as a nation. These places can be entered into your Fact Box and can be helpful reminders of the history that unfolded in that particular spot of geography. Sometimes you can actually touch history. You can reach down and feel a wagon track imprinted on the land where the wheels of a prairie schooner carried a family westward and left its mark on history. Sometimes you can walk inside the decaying walls of an old adobe fort or house where some important act of history was lived out. Or you can see and touch and climb inside some old entrenchment or redoubt that served in the defense of liberty. All of these can be entered as facts into your record or box.
The “eyewitnesses” of the nineteenth century events of history are almost all gone and we must look to books, and diaries, sermons and newspapers, to seek out our eighteenth century history. What can we record of today’s events that are taking place in our centuries—the twentieth and the twenty-first? Do we know of God’s Hand in preserving our nation in this century? Do we know of the many efforts for liberty taking place today in our nation, in our world? We should record carefully names, dates, places, important to the history of Constitutional Liberty.
The Bible is our written textbook of liberty and we can depend upon the facts of the Bible. Just as in Old Testament times there were efforts to preserve and record the Hand of God in His Story, so in the New Testament those who were “eyewitnesses” were careful to write down the important events in the Life of our Lord. Luke, who was not a disciple of our Lord, but a frequent companion of the Apostle Paul, began his Gospel with these significant words:
“Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us, Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word; It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus, That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou has been instructed.” Luke 1:1-4
Let us be faithful stewards of what the Lord is teaching us in all fields—and let us seek His principles in each field we research. As we expand our awareness of God’s principles in all fields and record carefully the facts which can serve to prepare us—then we will be ready to be used of the Lord for His plan and purpose as a faithful instrument of His will in our lives—to His glory and for the benefit of the cause of Liberty.
Keep your Fact Box at home. Work at it and review what you are recording often to see whether you are learning the relationships which exist between all aspects of God’s world. From time to time when you have something of interest to report you may want to take your Fact Box to school to share with your teachers and classmates. Perhaps others, too, in your school will be working at building a Fact Box and you can exchange your knowledge and information and inspire each other to pursue the goal of godly approval.
“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15
From the Editor — If the suggestion of a simple card file seems too old-fashioned to interest your technology-saturated children, consider the following suggestions:
In the sermon at church yesterday, the Pastor used Philippians 4:7-8 as the text for his message. His message reminded me and inspired me of the importance of reading, first the Word of God and then other good writings.
As I considered this topic many questions came to mind:
There are probably more questions which could be added to this list, but these are a place of beginning.
Why is it so important that Christians be a reading people?
God, in His great wisdom, saw fit to give us the written word as a means of knowing His mind concerning all areas of life and living. How can I know God’s plan unless I read His word? The Bible contains the answer for every aspect and challenge of life – we simply need to learn to search the Scriptures to find those answers. My brother, Dr. Glen Jaspers, preaches a great message on “The Bible, God’s Mind Concerning Everything”. I would highly recommend this message to challenge your thinking.
How does reading have an effect in a nation?
“A reading people will soon become a thinking people and a thinking people must soon become a great people.”[i]
This always reminds me of the importance of reading. As we watch current events unfold in our nation, we often see those individuals who are not thinking for themselves but assuming an attitude or position based upon what someone else has reasoned. A thinking people will read and reason for themselves and, if they are reasoning from the Scripture and from accurate historical writings, their conclusions will be those that will restore and preserve the Biblical foundations of our nation.
How do I choose what to read?
Many different sources are available which include suggested books for individuals of different ages. Two lists which I like to use personally and recommend to others are A Family Program for Reading Aloud by Rosalie Slater. This volume includes suggestions for all ages and you are assured that the recommended books will meet the standard of Philippians 4:8, that which is true, honest, just, pure, lovely and virtuous. The other list, also written by Rosalie Slater, is in James Rose’s, A Guide to American Christian Education for the Home and School: The Principle Approach. The section on literature begins on page 327, and offers many wonderful suggestions.
My grandchildren know that they can anticipate receiving a book for birthdays and Christmas each year. This is a wonderful opportunity to add to their library.
How do I teach someone to read?
If we desire to have our children and grandchildren read, they must be taught to become independent readers. There are many good phonics programs available. I highly recommend the method by which my children and grandchildren learned to read – originally this was the Little Patriot Series, but it is now offered as the American Language series. “Phonetic principles and concepts presented in this quality learn-to-read program allow students to learn quickly how to read any book.”
I have seen the outstanding fruit of this phonics program in producing great readers. One of the standards which I particularly like is that by the end of the Kindergarten level, the child is equipped to read from the Bible. This doesn’t need to be a simplified version of the Scripture, but can be an adult version – we recommend the King James Version, as it reflects English at the peak of the language, identifying the language of liberty.
[i] Reverend S. Phillips, The Christian Home as it is in the Sphere of Nature and the Church . ., 1861 in Teaching and Learning America’s Christian History: The Principle Approach (San Francisco: Foundation for American Christian Education, 1965), page 21.
If you’re homeschooling through high school, it may be beneficial to find ways for your student to learn from an outside teacher with all the convenience of staying at home. With your guidance and oversight, well-chosen online learning can greatly enrich your student’s homeschool education.
Naturally, you’ll be looking for online learning in subjects you feel under-prepared to teach. That might be mathematics, perhaps foreign language, upper level science, or quite often a course fulfilling your requirement to teach high school government.
In some cases, your student may have a particular interest they are passionate about pursuing. Online learning could be a great option for expanding their learning in a specific field.
It’s also possible for a high school student to earn dual credit for both high school and college via online classes.
But how will you choose? Budget limits and time commitments will no doubt be a factor. Make a point of seeking your spouse’s insights concerning the choices you are considering. Let your student suggest options. Check the requirements for graduation and think about which credits would best be earned at home, in a coop, in a homeschool class, or via online learning.
Be prayerful throughout this process. Wait for God’s leading and only move ahead when the direction is clear.
As you explore options, look carefully at student expectations. Will your student be required to attend an online class at a specified time? What are the deadlines? How will student work be evaluated? What are
the course objectives? What views are promoted in the teaching? What materials will your student study? Does the thinking align with your family’s values?
If you’re looking for a Biblically-based resource that highlights the influence of God’s Word upon our nation, you’ve come to the right place. Link?? Restoring America’s Biblical Foundations is a power-packed series for families, coops, homeschool groups, concerned citizens, future leaders, or individual study.
Build your view of the individual and the nation by beginning with your view of God; how man was created for self government and liberty; a view of history that recognizes God’s hand at work; the principles that produced our federal, constitutional republic; and the one and only source of hope for our nation.
Here are some comments from high schoolers who have completed the study:
“To have a strong and good government we need to follow God and the laws He has made for us.”
“God’s Word enables us to govern ourselves. It changes us from within.”
“We need to be knowledgeable about our government.”
“I’ve learned a lot about the Christian side of government! And how God wants us to view government. I loved that this class helped me express what I think about the Biblical view of Government.”
As you build your thinking, you’ll want to consider the full-fledged, yearlong, online study Pilgrim Institute offers for high school history and government. It might be just what your student needs to be equipped for the future. The lessons deepen understanding and thinking skills, cultivate reasoning and writing skills, and enable young people to act from conviction as they step forward as citizens in our republic.
Thankfully, families within the homeschool community recognize that cultivating the character of their children is a top priority in their homeschooling efforts.
The challenge, though, is achieving this goal in daily teaching amidst the challenges of school work, laundry, dishes, care for family members, and more.
I recall a conversation in which a well-organized mom voiced her dilemma: “I know I want to build character in my children, but we also have to learn the lessons in our curriculum. I have a hard time knowing how to accomplish both of those goals.”
Good news, parents! If you consider specific foundations in your thinking, you don’t have to sacrifice character-building for the sake of accomplishing the academics your students need to master.
It helps to realize that education is much more than knowledge or learning. Noah Webster’s definition is helpful in informing our thinking. “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.” American Dictionary of the English Language, 1828.
Webster’s 1828 dictionary definition of character helps our thinking as well. “The peculiar qualities, impressed by nature or habit on a person, which distinguish him from others.” By extension, we could say that Christian character is the mark of Christ made upon the heart of the individual, revealed in his actions.
Employing the habits necessary to impressing these desired qualities requires intentional, consistent effort on the part of the parent. We are helped in this effort by focusing on why and how we teach rather than placing all the emphasis on what we teach.
Lessons that require the student to exercise thinking rather than rote learning will be immensely helpful. Your child was asking the question why from the high chair, before he had words to express his thinking. He pushed food onto the floor simply to find out if it would fall.
If you cultivate the reasoning capacity of your children all along the way, they will treasure learning and take it to heart. The process of thinking will shape and mold their character as they consider cause and effect relationships, as they compare and contrast, and as they draw conclusions.
As you discuss ideas, rather than simply memorize facts and information, you are shaping their capacity to evaluate and consider. The natural extension of this learning is to record important ideas and express thinking in sentences, paragraphs and more.
The process of thinking requires a discipline of the mind. The process of writing cultivates qualities of attention to detail, diligence, discipline and control.
As you pursue an intentional view and method of character-focused education, you may spend more time engaging with your students and accomplishing your lessons. There may be less busywork, and you may have to find a way to fold laundry while asking your student to think and reason, but your investment will be well worth your time.
As you consistently spend time thinking together and writing, you’ll be building your own personalized education. The lessons will be not only be recorded on paper, they’ll be taken to heart. What better way to shape and mold attitudes, build a character for independent thinking and lifelong love for learning, and make a difference in your child’s future?
* Emphasize ideas over information
* Analyze or simply memorize
* Present ideas
* Explain subject matter based on underlying principles
* Encourage mastery
* Express the subject matter as a reflection of the Character of God
Pilgrim Institute has been helping parents along this pathway for three decades. We would love to walk alongside you in your homeschooling journey. www.PilgrimInstitute.org
Pilgrim Institute recommends:
No more remarkable example can be found of colonial education at its best than the education of James Madison, “The Father of the Constitution.” This work is devoted to tracing its outlines so that we may see why such outstanding results were obtained in the lives of so many students of Madison’s generation who were similarly educated.