Teaching Tip 4 – Researching, Reasoning, Relating and Recording

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Teaching Tip 4 – Researching, Reasoning, Relating and Recording

The Principle Approach

Rosalie Slater identified the Principle Approach as, “America’s historic Christian method of Biblical reasoning which makes the truths of God’s word the basis of every subject in the school curriculum. The Principle Approach begins by restoring the 4 R’s to teaching and learning.”¹ These 4R’s are Researching, Reasoning, Relating and Recording.

Based upon this statement we understand that we should be able to search the Word of God to find the basis of every subject which we are teaching to our students, whether in the homeschool or classroom curriculum. The question is “How can this be done?”

First, we must understand that these are not four separate steps, but the first three are going on simultaneously.

You are searching [diligent inquiry or examination]; as you are searching, you are reasoning [distinguishing truth from falsehood, and good from evil]; and relating [determining if this has reference or regard to your subject]. Once you draw that conclusion, you record your conclusion.

This process may begin by defining a subject of study, whether academic or a topic related to life or a spiritual question. A recommended resource is Webster’s 1828 Dictionary, as it is the first American Dictionary which identifies the language of liberty known at the time of America’s founding and is Christian in its definitions. This dictionary can be found online or in Pilgrim Institute’s store.

Identifying and defining key words

From that definition, you can then identify the word you have defined or key words from the definition in a Bible concordance and search the Scriptures to see what God’s Word says concerning this particular subject. As you reason and relate the verses, you eliminate those that are not appropriate to the subject and consider the ones which are. From these you can draw your conclusions as to the origin of your subject and God’s plan and purpose for this subject – whether this subject be mathematics, botany, prayer, or redemption.

This method is an ideal tool for any teacher to determine the Biblical foundation of his subject. You may search for the whole of the subject or some particular area of study within the subject.

However, the method is also a great tool for personal Bible study. If this method is taught to children at a young age and they learn that they can search the Scriptures for the Biblical answer to any question, it is a lesson which will go with them throughout life. Caution: The young child should be directed to a simple concordance in the back of a children’s Bible. This method can be taught as soon as you are teaching a student to learn how to use a dictionary, which should be at least at first grade.

Ordering our thinking

When the Principle Approach was first being restored in American Christian education, there was a false idea that the 4 R’s were four separate steps and teachers endeavored to divide their notebooks and student notebooks into these four sections. This is a very difficult plan, as how can you separate when you are researching, when you are reasoning, and when you are relating? These are a process that go on simultaneously. I would caution you to not fall into that process.

Let’s go one step further with the definition of the Principle Approach – Note that the definition is that it is AMERICA’S HISTORIC Christian method of Biblical reasoning. The 4 R’s can be used without making it America’s Historic method. You can make it Biblical, and that is good, but it will not embrace the responsibility for restoration of the foundation of our nation.

The Principle Approach to American Christian Education is the method based upon a philosophy of government. And that philosophy of government is based upon a view of God, man, and how man is to be governed. If the underlying philosophy of government is not Biblical and historical, the methodology which is produced will not be effective in producing students who understand their responsibility as American Christians in this nation where God has given us the greatest liberty that any people have ever known.

Following is a chart which shows the relationship between America’s Christian history, government and American Christian education. This is part of a presentation and I trust you can follow the flow of reasoning as you watch the video.

For additional assistance, we’ve developed a handout and this brief audio explanation. This will open in a new window, which will allow you to play in the background while you view the chart.

Audio clip explanation with Ruth Smith.

Teaching Tip 4 Handout


[1] Rosalie Slater, Teaching and Learning America’s Christian History: The Principle Approach (San Francisco: Foundation for American Christian Education, 1975), page 88.