An Individual’s Journey with the Principle Approach – Part III

An Individual’s Journey with the Principle Approach
 Third in a Series
Ruth J. Smith

This is the third part in a series. Check here for Part I and Part II.

At the end of the last part, the idea of “thinking governmentally” was introduced. It took some time, but eventually I learned that thinking governmentally was to think first internally, then externally; thinking cause to effect, etc. This idea was primary to the entire method of the Principle Approach. It wasn’t which book, which event, or which problem. We had to begin to think first internally. What were the principles which controlled the subject which was being taught? Yes, we would consider which books, which events, and which problems, but the decision would be made by what was internally controlling and directing.

Part of my teaching included the privilege to teach literature classes at various grade levels. Since I had first learned to read, I had loved books and reading. I remember walking to school, while reading a book. But I was reading books only for the excitement of the plot. Therefore, I never wanted to read a book more than once.

With Miss Slater’s patient tutoring, I quickly learned that literature was much more than just reading books. I soon learned of the rich lessons to be found in books. We learned that literature is the “handmaid of history”. There were only a few teachers who were teaching literature in this manner. There weren’t guides available. So, again, a call to Miss Slater, and she would discuss the various periods of literature, or the great children’s classics.

Often, after a telephone call, a package would arrive and Miss Slater would have sent some  notes or background material which could be used to teach the book we had discussed. What a blessing! Could I now inspire my students to love literature? [See previous article on reading.]

But what was more important than history class? After looking at every so-called Christian book available, we soon realized there weren’t books in print which taught America’s history from a Providential view. The challenge was how could we begin to teach the children in our school the ideas we were learning of America’s Christian history? How could we begin to teach these students to “think governmentally”? A plan began to form in my heart and mind, which would take the ideas of those big red books, but make it teachable for elementary children.

Each week, I would develop material, teach it to the other teachers at our weekly teacher’s meeting and they would, in turn, teach their students during the coming week. There was no realization that this would be the seed of a series of children’s history books. But God’s ways are a great deep.

After a few years, the fruit of teaching students to “think governmentally” began to reveal itself in the character of the students. And the teaching by principles was producing a higher level of scholarship.

 As the fruit of American Christian education was revealed, the question we began to ask – How can we share this with others?

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An Individual’s Journey with the Principle Approach – Part II


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