What Everyone Must Know About The Principle Approach®

There’s a misunderstanding about what is taught in regards to American History when it comes to the Principle Approach®(1). As a mother who has been homeschooling with this Biblical Classical philosophy and method for over a decade, I’m a witness to it. Whereas some individuals glance through materials to review it or they don’t utilize the approach entirely. Therefore, they walk away with a misunderstanding about it when it comes to History. As such, I strongly feel that this needs to be addressed. And I hope that you’ll take a moment to read through this article. Find out what everyone must know about The Principle Approach®.

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Misunderstandings About The Principle Approach® and American History

Below are some misunderstandings about The Principle Approach® and American History. Namely these misunderstandings are:

  • Easy to focus exclusively on the positive early aspects of American History
  • Overlook or gloss over some of the not-so-good stains of American History
  • Gloss over or overlook shortcomings or failures of the Founding Fathers

Easy to Focus Exclusively on the Positive Early Aspects of American History

If a teacher or parent does this, it’s because they’re not implementing the method fully. Part of the implementation is to look at the internal-to-external and the cause-to-effect. In other words, we say, “This happened and let’s look at why.” Then we take the actions or ideas involved in the situation and we do a Word Study to find out what God has to say about it.

Overlook or Gloss Over Some of the Not-So-Good Stains of American History

Again, if a teacher or parent does this, it’s because of their own doing. It has nothing to do with The Principle Approach® itself. To begin with, this land wasn’t a Garden of Eden before the Pilgrims, Puritans, and others came to her shores. After all, natives were warring amongst each other, sickness existed, and so did death. It’s a fact worldwide since the Fall of mankind.

Of course this doesn’t excuse any sinful acts of anyone whether they were here first or came later. But do let us not put the sins of some upon those who are innocent of sinful acts. For instance, many times people will blame the Pilgrims for the atrocities caused by the adventurers.

Gloss Over or Overlook Shortcomings or Failures of the Founding Fathers

It’s common for individuals who aren’t trained in the Biblical-Principle Approach to think that The Principle Approach® idolizes or elevates the Founding Fathers. Of course they were sinful. After all, they were human like the people in the Bible and like you and me. To be sure, a The Principle Approach® education does not teach that the Founding Fathers were perfect individuals.

For instance, one way of how we study about the Founding Fathers (or any other Key Individuals for that matter) is to use a T-Chart. And on this T-Chart we label one side “Internal Qualities” and one side “External Qualities.” So, as we read about individuals, we take note of the “good” and the “bad” of each person. Also, we look at the cause-to-effect that the internal and external qualities have.

So, if this aspect of the method isn’t being implemented by a teacher or parent, it’s not a reflection on The Principle Approach® method and philosophy. Therefore if it’s viewed that there’s an error in the terms of balance, it’s not due to The Principle Approach® materials.

The Sins of Others Isn’t One of the Main Focuses of Teaching American History

Wouldn’t the enemy just love for us to shadow over the main focuses of American History taught with The Principle Approach® method and philosophy? After all, it’d be a perfect way to stifle God’s Providential Hand, His purposes, our Christian Form of Government, and His mighty works.

Furthermore, we could turn our main focus on the sins of the Founding Fathers. But then that makes man the center of history and takes our eyes off of Christ, the Focal Point of History (His Story). And isn’t it wonderful what God can do through sinners?! Rather than no longer being involved in the lives of [imperfect, sinful] men and nations, God continues to be involved! In short, we focus on Biblical principles of Government, because that is what we’ve been given.

Not to mention that one of the goals of this form of education is to help restore our Republic. Certainly, we do compare and contrast different forms of government and character of individuals. Because this is an essential component to learning from mistakes. But, one of the main focuses is the seven founding principles upon which our nation is founded. Therefore, they’re essential to education for the restoration of our nation. And this is important to grasp because without these principles, we won’t have a Republic!

Indeed, it seems that America is the most complete expression of liberty [because of the Gospel] than any other nation. And God has been using her to demonstrate liberty to the world- free from socialism. That is to say, especially during her first 150 years. But when we began to leave our first principles and allow socialism to slowly creep in, America started to suffer. However, we can help save her with The Principle Approach® philosophy and method of education. And it won’t be by downplaying God’s Principles.

Start Teaching God’s Providential History

So, what are you waiting for? For now, you can get started by getting your own copy of Teaching and Learning America’s Christian History and Christian History of our Constitution  Volume 1!

Footnote 1: The Principle Approach® is a registered trademark of the Foundation for American Christian Education.

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  1. This was an excellent article. Well thought out and clearly articulates the truth of what it’s like to homeschool with the Principle Approach.

    Thank you, Heather.

  2. The challenge always is what is to be emphasized. Thank you for your thoughts. The beauty of the Principle Approach to American Christian Education is that we are emphasizing God’s Hand as being in control. What is amazing is that God doesn’t always use the best of men to accomplish His goals, but He has a plan for each individual and each nation. Since all men are sinners, it takes great discernment to know what should be emphasized about each individual or nation. The ideal is to look at the big picture to see how is God working and that should be the emphasis. If properly implemented, this is the goal of the Principle Approach. Those who would represent it otherwise lack understanding of the approach. We must study times when there is evil in the land, but then look for what is the greater plan that God has which is ruling and overruling in the affairs of man.

    1. Thank you, Mrs. Smith. I greatly appreciate you taking the time to read the article and to comment.

      That’s a very good point that you mention: It does take discernment about what to emphasize and then how to study. And I love how you succinctly express the beauty of the Principle Approach®.

      May God continue to bless you and your work greatly.

  3. The study of Providential history is the story of sin-natured man responding or not responding to Holy God. The Principle Approach instills the discernment in students to see His story as God working through men and nations to bring about His purposes. Teachers sensitive to the innocence of children must deal with sin in the Bible and in History. The good news is that seeing history providentially is ALWAYS good news as God is orchestrating his purposes despite manifold sin. Man proposes, God disposes. A secular view of history can be dismal if man is all there is! The Principle Approach instills the good news of the Gospel, abiding HOPE, and affection for a sovereign, holy, GOOD God.

    1. Amen to all that you say!! Thank you for reading and commenting, Carole Adams.

      I know our family is so thankful for you and all that the Foundation for American Christian Education does. I pray that God continues to bless you and your important work.

  4. You make some good points. I’d like to add that we can’t ignore the audience and recipient of the Principle Approach. The Principle Approach is mainly for children ages 5-18. Yes it can be applied to all of life and all ages, but children need an education in the foundation of the unique history of the country in which they live. We can give our children the big picture of the ails and triumphs of our history, but what I want my kids to remember when they are young is that He uses individuals who’s dependency is on God to further His purposes and through that, they can see that they too have a contribution in His story. Period. As children leave the elementary principles of America’s heritage of Christianity, they study the history and influence of a pagan view of man and government throughout all of history and in the high school grades, students come back to America’s Christian history in greater depth analyzing the changes and challenges we have faced over the years. We teach students to focus on principles, as Heather mentions in her blog. Children and adolescents know that man is inherently evil and finite and the world is corrupt. That doesn’t haven’t to be a focus. By the time kids graduate, they should have a solid understanding of God’s hand in America in the lives of fallen individuals and how profound and extraordinary the founding fathers framed a country unlike any other. That what we need to teach our kids. Don’t let the problems and weaknesses we faced in this nation rob us of the power of God in our nation to use imperfect men to establish liberty for all. Just like we, when we get saved, are not fully mature, this nation has matured and provided liberty to more and more people over the years…AS LONG AS WE CAN KEEP IT. I’m afraid, in this day and age, we are losing our liberty. As a Christian, my greatest concern is keeping our Christian history alive in the hearts and minds of our children, because if they don’t fully understand it, they will find themselves in a nation void of liberty at all. Yes, our nation and government leaders failed and faltered, but God is still interested in liberty. May we take every opportunity to educate our children in the principles of liberty that they may have hope in time to come.