I wanted to get your opinion on the Principle Approach Curriculum.
I had to go rummaging through my homeschool catalog file for a while before I found my 2009 “Catalogue of The Noah Plan,” otherwise known as The Principle Approach. The curriculum is offered in different formats: DVD courses; books and CDs for “self-study”; or large group study (like home groups or Sunday School classes).
From the website:
Q: What makes The Noah Plan classical in nature?
A: Why look to medieval Europe for classical education when the pinnacle of classical education was reached in our own nation with a Biblical and governmental mission two centuries ago? The tools of learning are ours. They’re not medieval, they’re Biblical and governmental.
The “classical Christian” education trend looks back to medieval practices for a classical adaptation for today’s education of tomorrow’s Christian leader. The medieval system, known as the trivium and the quadrivium, represents a sequence of learning in which raw data is logically analyzed and then derived principles are expressed. It adds on Latin, logic and classical methods such as rote memory, copy work, recitation, Bible and spiritual training.
The Principle Approach is bibliocentric, with the Bible at the heart of teaching and learning. It looks to the practices developed in America, based upon Reformation Christianity. The Principle Approach is Biblical-classical American education—the product of the educational practices of the founding era when literacy was at its peak, when all education was classical, and when the end result of schooling was in producing leaders of character, conscience, Christian self-government and governmental principles.
The Noah Plan curriculum is classical. Literature classics are taught beginning with the children’s classics in kindergarten and expanding through the grades giving language development the model and inspiration of classical literature. Children develop language and vocabulary skills that enable leadership and service. History is taught from the earliest grades with the providential approach showing the Hand of God in the affairs of men and nations and providing the Chain of Christianity as the structure of Western civilization. The curriculum practices methods that develop writers, speakers and leaders. All subjects employ the Notebook Approach which requires research, reasoning, recording and relating what is learned.
Most importantly, the Principle Approach is governmental, achieving the goal set forth by Samuel Adams, American patriot and founder, when he said, “that we should unite our endeavors to renovate the age by understanding the importance of educating our little boys and girls, of inculcating in the minds of youth the fear and love of the Deity and universal philanthropy, and, in subordination to these great principles, the love of their country; of instructing them in the art of self-government, without which they never can act a wise part in the government of societies, great or small; in short, of leading them in the study and practice of the exalted virtues of the Christian system.”
The Principle Approach, as American classical education, is Biblical and governmental. It looks to leadership of the next generation to be well-educated in the Bible and its governmental principles. It acknowledges America’s Christian history and Biblical form of government, teaching them in every subject. It applies Biblical principles in scholarship, reasoning, character formation and developing Christian self-government. It values the worth and dignity of each student and nurtures each one to achieve his fullest potential in Christ. The Principle Approach produces a Biblical Christian worldview, holding the student accountable for his character and his learning. It places the responsibility for the character and preservation of our Christian constitutional republic upon the parent to teach children “the art of self-government.”
This quote explains where I would differ with the Noah Plan personally. I applaud their emphasis on biblical standards, morality and classicism (though I humbly suggest they have erred slightly in their definition of what it means to be classical). I most disagree that colonial or Revolutionary America is the epitomy of greatness to which we should point our children.
Now, before you shudder, gasp, and throw stones through your computer screen, let me say a few words in my own defense. I am, in this case, a Pharisee of the Pharisees. I am a pedigreed decedent of Pennsylvania colonists, pre-Revolution. I have two revolutionary grandfathers, one militia and one Continental army. My grandfather crossed the Rubicon with Washington. Later, those two grandfathers settled western Pennsylvania with their families when it was still wilderness. I am also proud that I have a grandfather who fought, along with two of his brothers, to preserve the Union in the War between the States. I am extremely proud to be an American, and was never more so than when standing beside my immigrant husband for his oath of naturalization 4 years ago.
So this is not about how great America is. America is great, and we are proud to live here and proud to be Americans.
But early Americans is not what I most aspire to my children to become. I want my children to be like Christ. I want them to see God in their studies.
Early America had its problems. Early American leaders – even the Adams family that I love so much – had their flaws. Americans had theological flaws; they had political flaws. I would not want to live in 1700 America or 1800 America if you paid me. Not everyone was free. It was Puritan Massachusetts who made public education compulsory and paid for by tax dollars. Many colonies did not enjoy religious freedom. Politicians made serious compromises for personal gain or expediency. When I look at the problems then and the problems now, I take the problems now. I am so thankful I can worship freely and teach my children unhindered.
I know many people have used this curriculum and enjoy it. More power to them; to each his own. I have said before, and I’ll say it again,
Books don’t teach children. Parents teach children.