The Principle Approach – Teaching Tip #1 – Leading Ideas

One of the keys to implementing the Principle Approach to American Christian Education is to teach not just facts or information, but to present principles and ideas. These will remain with the student long after the facts have been forgotten.

As a teacher prepares lesson plans for each day, it is important to identify the main or Leading Idea for the individual lesson. This Idea will govern the content of the classtime and any student work. Webster defined an Idea as a concept, thought, opinion, image in the mind, proposition, or principle. The Idea is what will remain with the student and will be supported by the facts and material selected for the classtime.

The confirmation of the Idea being taught will occur as the student reflects and reasons concerning the Idea taught through questions and tests. It is easy for the teacher to fall into simply teaching facts and information. To avoid this pitfall, identify the Leading Idea for each lesson and make it a part of your planning for the individual class.

If you are unfamiliar with this approach, please consider an example from The Mighty Works of God history series. The example taken from the Teacher’s Guide to the Self Government volume, introduces children, as early as the primary grades to the ideas of thinking governmentally. What a tremendous opportunity to teach our children and students to learn to govern their own actions.

If you have been teaching The Mighty Works of God series, we invite your comments on the effect of teaching Leading Ideas.

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    • Peggy Burress
    • April 6, 2017

    I have been teaching four children “Self-Government” this year. The age range is from as 8 through 12. That doesn’t sound too hard, but there is so much difference in what they can do. If I concentrate on thinking and reasoning through the main ideas taught, the younger students actually do better that the older ones. I love it when they think through a situation and come to a good conclusion rather than just memorizing some set of facts. I find myself asking why do you think this happened or how could their worldview affect their behavior in whatever situation. I have been focusing on why the chain of history links are so important and they are learning and loving it. It has been a great first year!

  1. Reply

    Isn’t it a joy to see that children can learn to reason through ideas? It is wonderful that they have a great ability to memorize, and we should encourage that in them, but it should be memorization with reasoning. We are so pleased that you have enjoyed this first year of teaching in The Mighty Works of God series. Trust you will be teaching Liberty and Justice for All next year!

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