The Principle Approach to Writing

The Principle Approach® to Writing is Above Average

As you may guess, I absolutely love writing. And, it may just be a fact that most of our children enjoy it at least as much as I do. So far, our two college students get A’s on their essays and compliments on their Biblical reasoning abilities. Plus, so far we have four children who are aspiring authors. Without a doubt, my husband and I attribute this to the way we’ve been homeschooling them. You see, the Principle Approach® to writing is above average and it develops and nurtures a love of writing.

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The Notebook Method

Rather than simply filling out worksheets, fill-in-the-blanks, word searches, or other busy work, notebooks are used as a means to produce. Specifically, they require students to interact with their research by reasoning through their studies. Thus, students produce their own thoughts on paper as they form convictions. Therefore, the notebooks become a product of the producer.

My mentor Ben Gilmore oftentimes says: “The product reveals the producer.”

Indeed it does.

Ultimately, we want to be scholars of God’s Word and of His Providence with the ability to think and reason Biblically. Our notebooks reveal how we are disciples of Christ for all of life. It’s a becoming process—sanctification and spiritual growth with application in this world.

I say ‘we’ because it’s not just about our children who are our students. As teachers, we need to be leading by example. The Bible teaches us that:

“A student is not above the teacher; but everyone, when he has been fully trained, will be like his teacher.” Luke 6:40 (NASB)

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Exercises in the Principle Approach® to Writing

Today’s Thoughts Many Have About Writing

I was going through the Judah Bible Curriculum’s Education for Liberty K-12 Manual. This, by the way, is what we are going through as a family Bible study this year (and no, this is not a sponsored post). Anyway, I absolutely love how the author, Bill Burtness, describes writing with this philosophy and method of learning:

“In our day, we need a new mentality about writing. Our thinking tends to be that writing is putting words down on paper to form a sentence. But this is only the external aspect of writing. Equally important is the internal aspect of forming valuable, true ideas to be expressed in words, and being able to express them clearly and effectively.”1

Did you catch part of the Principle Approach® philosophy there? We take into consideration the internal –> the external. These work together and they must be exercised regularly.

The Purpose of Writing

Mr. Burtness continues to say:

“The purpose of writing exercises is to practice analyzing the material we are studying in the Bible (or elsewhere), to practice reasoning cause to effect using that material, to practice expressing our ideas clearly and logically, and to practice good writing form (sentence and paragraph structure, idea flow, grammar, spelling).”2

“Writing exercises should use ‘why’ questions and comparisons. How does A relate to B? What causes A? What is the result of B? Why? Use the 3-part essay format: thesis, body/argument, and conclusion. It can be 3 sentences, paragraphs, or sections depending on the students’ abilities.”3

There were a couple of Principle Approach® gems in those paragraphs there. Did you see them? Students include thinking cause –> effect in their writing. Additionally, they practice writing according to the governing rules of sentence and paragraph structure, idea flow, grammar, and spelling—they are thinking governmentally. Another way of looking at it is that they are having dominion over their essays as they apply the governing principles of writing. Lastly, we see that the Principle Approach® to asking reasoning questions is incorporated. All of these are encompassed within the body of their essays.

 

What the Principle Approach® to Writing is Not

Most ‘writing assignments’ given to children and youth are things like:

  • book reports
  • reports about a specific topic with the use of encyclopedias or other such resources
  • or to write a summary of a book

Mr. Burtness comments on these, saying:

“Book reports, reports from the encyclopedia on specific subjects (i.e. kangaroo), and summaries of books are not writing; they are copying and restating another’s opinion. They do not teach reasoning or encourage one’s own opinion.”4

For the most part, I’m in agreement with his statement above. However, in our homeschool we have applied the Principle Approach to writing in our student’s book reports. This is especially something that may be done with biographies or autobiographies. But, it may also be accomplished with historical fiction books that are to a degree also an auto-biography (i.e. Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder). There is an example of this with a book report one of our daughter’s wrote about in the article, Notebooks vs. Workbooks: Which One Unlocks Biblical Scholarship?

 

In Conclusion

Students are much more capable than many give them credit for. Of course, in the early elementary and elementary years, we help guide them with the application of the Principle Approach® to writing. Oh but once they soar on their own, it’s a beautiful thing!

 


1. Judah Bible Curriculum, ©2010 by Bill Burtness, p. 7
2. Judah Bible Curriculum, ©2010 by Bill Burtness, p. 7
3. Judah Bible Curriculum, ©2010 by Bill Burtness, p. 7
4. Judah Bible Curriculum, ©2010 by Bill Burtness, p. 8

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