What is the Principle Approach?
The Principle Approach is the method of education which makes the truths of God's Word the foundation of every subject in the curriculum. It teaches a student to read and reason in a subject and, then, to observe, draw and write his own proper conclusions. The emphasis is not put upon rote memorization or regurgitation of facts, but rather upon understanding the subject as a whole and then being able to express the ideas of a subject in one’s own words, in a clear written form.
“This unique philosophy and method considers every academic discipline as a reflection of the nature of God, and emphasizes the principles which enlighten the student’s understanding and enables him to master his academic subjects. This historic method of Biblical reasoning is built upon a recognition of the Providence of God in history and the Biblical principles of government upon which our nation was built.”
Ruth Smith of Pilgrim Institute
History & Government
The purpose of history is to enlighten students of the works of God and His Providential hand in bringing forth self-government into the world through Gospel liberty. History begins with Creation and moves along key events and individuals of history, such as Moses the Law giver, Jesus Christ, "The Focal Point of History", Paul the Apostle to the Gentiles, John Wycliffe and Bible in the hands of the people, the invention of the Gutenberg printing press, William Tyndale and the English Bible, the founding of Jamestown, the Pilgrims who, with the Mayflower Compact, established America as the world's first Christian Republic. Through our study of history and God’s Providential hand, we learn that God is always working and that grows our faith and trust in Him.
“The march of Providence is so slow, and our desires so impatient; the work of progress is so immense and our means of aiding it so feeble; the life of humanity is so long, that of the individual so brief, that we often see only the ebb of the advancing wave and are thus discouraged. It is history that teaches us to hope.”
Robert E. Lee
Literature is defined as “learning from books”. The definition of a classic is “the best expression of the best thought”. What is thought of as “the best” refers to one's view of value and worth, which leads us to our foundation, i.e. that on which anything stands. Paul stated in 1 Corinthians 3:11, “For other foundation can no man lay that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” We lay Christ as the foundation of literature and the Bible identifies what is of value and what is of worth in Philippians 4:8, “Finally brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Readers who are instructed in literature with this foundation will love those qualities and reject those that are opposite. They will repel that which is false, dishonest, unjust, impure, unlovely, books of bad report in which there is no virtue and no praise, nothing of excellence or worth valuing.
“The world does not need more Christian literature. What it needs is more Christians writing good literature.”
Arithmetic is founded upon the nature and character of God. Such attributes are: Unity, which suggests the idea of the one or the unit; Trinity, which suggests (how?) the idea of counting – one, two, three; endless (endless) duration of time, which suggests the idea of counting units to eternity future or eternity past (counting forward and backward); Eternity of being, which again suggests the infinity of arithmetic; and Unchangeableness and Immutability, which suggests that each operation of arithmetic results in only one correct answer. As a student studies and learns the operations and order of arithmetic, they learn about (of) the nature and character of God. Hebrews 13:8 states, “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today and forever.”
"Mathematics must be presented as a painting, or a literary work, and the student must be taught to appreciate it just as much as he is taught to appreciate any work of art. Math has its own beauty and harmony, it is a world of its own, and in it there are numberless areas that can make men enjoy that world in itself."
We begin teaching science at the earliest age. As students progress, they will not simply take general science classes that give an overview, but will spend time studying specific areas of science such as astronomy, botany, zoology, geology, and others in depth. When they progress to high school, our students begin to be dual-enrolled in the local junior college, allowing them to take classes such as physics and chemistry at a college level and receiving college credit for those classes. Throughout their studies, the students will be challenged to always see how they can know their Creator better through His creation ("For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse." Romans 1:20). They will also acquire the skills to reason through the sciences and understand their God given designs and purposes.
"The great unity which true science seeks is found only by beginning with our knowledge of God, and coming down from Him along the stream of causation to every fact and event that affects us."
The main focus of our Bible class is to teach our students to reason from the scriptures to their own conclusion. While we believe the main setting for scripture reading and learning should be done in the home, we desire our students to be able to take a piece of scripture, read it, reason from the scriptures, and write or speak their own thoughts from what they have reasoned. In the early grades, we begin by reading Bible stories with the students, helping them to think and reason what happened from cause to effect, and explain what God is teaching us though that scripture. As the students get older, we begin to focus on ideas and principles such as obedience, what is lawful/unlawful, consciences, and studying characters from the Bible to learn and reason if their actions and thoughts were Godly and what the consequences were. By the time they graduate, our students will be equipped to think, reason, and live from a Biblical mindset, influencing all spheres of society. At all times, the students are reminded of II Timothy 3:16, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works."
"All the miseries and evils which men suffer from vice, crime, ambition, injustice, oppression, slavery and war, proceed from their despising or neglecting the precepts contained in the Bible."
The purpose of art is to depict God's creation through one's observation of God’s creation, using one's God-given talents. Through art, be it painting, sculpting, drawing, etc., we highlight the creativity, diversity and individuality God has demonstrated in Nature. The goal is to bring awareness and awe to the wonders that He has made. Therefore, art reflects Nature and depicts what is true to life, not a dismantling or distorting of Creation. “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handywork.” Psalm 19:1
"But, as sculpture and painting are gifts of God, what I insist on is, that both shall be used purely and lawfully, that gifts which the Lord has bestowed upon us, for His glory and our good, shall not be preposterously abused, nay, shall not be perverted to our destruction."