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American Classical Education

  • Carole G. Adams, Ph. D. Executive VP of the Foundation for American Christian Education
  • Published Jun 19, 2002
American Classical Education

The “classical Christian” education trend spurred by the essay of a twentieth century British mystery writer and Christian apologist, Dorothy Sayers, called “The Lost Tools of Learning,” looks back to medieval practices for a classical adaptation for today’s education of tomorrow’s Christian leader. The Principle Approach response to this movement is this: We never lost our tools-they’re not medieval; they’re Biblical and governmental. And they’re uniquely American.

The “Found” Tools of Learning

The Principle Approach looks to the practices developed in America, based upon Reformation Christianity, that reflect the achievements of the era that reached the pinnacle of educational practice in producing leaders of character, conscience, and governmental principles. The Principle Approach™ is American Classical 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 the development of the character of Christian self-government.

The Principle Approach is America’s historic method of Biblical reasoning which makes the Truths of God’s Word the basis of every subject in the curriculum. It establishes bedrock principles from which to break open each subject to reveal the knowledge of God, making the curriculum a whole system of truth. 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 begins with reasoning from Biblical principles, reclaiming the integrity of every subject by working from a basis of truth. It is bibliocentric, with the Bible at the heart of teaching and learning.

The Principle Approach 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. With both the Bible and classical literature at the heart of the curriculum, 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. Moreover, the curriculum practices methods that develop writers, speakers, and leaders of Christian conscience and character, as all subjects employ the Notebook Approach which requires research, reasoning, recording, and relating what is learned.

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, accomplishes this admonition. Because it is Biblical and governmental, it looks to leadership of the next generation to be well educated in the Bible and its governmental principles. It is characterized by the supremacy of the Bible and its teaching methodology in all instruction. 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.”

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 not “lost.” They’re not medieval; they’re Biblical and governmental.

Practical Help for Teaching and Learning the Principle Approach

Best of all, The Principle Approach™ is now being published in a complete curriculum that presents every subject at every grade level with curriculum guides that give practical and user-friendly help to the teacher. The curriculum is The Noah Plan published by the Foundation for American Christian Education. The Noah Plan is being used in thousands of homes and schools across America with tremendous results. F.A.C.E. provides training for teachers, home schoolers, administrators, pastors, and students each year at their International Apprenticeship in Chesapeake, Virginia. Hundreds of people have attended this Apprenticeship and gone forth to implement The Principle Approach in their homes, schools, and churches.