A Christian View of Man Produces a Uniquely Christian View of Educational Development
The Bible reveals that every human is a covenant-breaker unless redeemed by the grace of God through faith in the substitutionary atonement by Jesus Christ. A biblically structured curriculum should lead students to increased self-consciousness regarding their covenantal status, either as covenant-keepers or covenant-breakers.
Historically, formal Christian education began in the local church with the catechizing of children. When the printing press made possible cheap catechisms, formal instruction moved into the home.
I recommend the use of children's catechisms from an early age. Here are representative catechisms.
Read to the child from an early age: before he can talk. In picture books, ask the child to point to a named picture. Teach colors this way.
Developmental Progression: K-12
Memorization (catechism, songs, psalms, numbers)
Reading: phonetically, then easily, then rapidly, then critically
Arithmetic: memorization, simple manipulation, story problems, practical, science
Bible: stories, history, theology
Literature: children's stories, rhymes, songs, psalms, hymns, short stories, novels, poetry, plays
Daily Study Time Required
The core curriculum requires four hours a day until high school.
An hour of arithmetic
15 minutes of penmanship (switch to typing at age 11)
An hour of reading (45 minutes of reading from a printed page, followed by
15 minutes of speed reading review on a computer)
A half hour of grammar, spelling, and vocabulary
20 minutes of writing
10 minutes of "lecturing to the wall" on the daily theme
A half hour of the Bible
15 minutes of Bible memorization and catechism
Spelling, vocabulary, grammar, composition, and speaking are best taught as an extension of age-specific literature. Students read captivating literature. Their literary course work is an extension of this reading. This approach demonstrates the real-world aspects of the course work. There is no "busy work" in my curriculum.
There is a daily writing assignment from the third grade on. There is also a daily speaking assignment. The student must master these skills. They are unique to this curriculum. The child will graduate from high school as an effective communicator.
They will read for pleasure. They will also read for mastery of communications skills. They will not read to pass an exam on the details of what they read. Exams on reading assignments end when conventional students finally graduate. In my curriculum, the exams on literature never begin. Authors do not write literature so that students can pass exams. Teachers should honor the goals of authors.
Parents may also assign a foreign language. My curriculum does not include this. If they decide to do this, the program should begin in the first grade. (See below.)
Middle school usually refers to grades 6-8, the worst behavior phase of the adolescent years in tax-funded schools.
Middle school continues work in mathematics. The literature section is divided: boys and girls. The grammar courses should be keyed to specific reading assignments in the books.
There must be a Bible curriculum.
There must be a daily essay.
Middle-school students who join this site are encouraged to become tutors on the forums. This is not busy work.
The pace picks up in high school to six hours a day of actual study time, plus breaks.
There must be four tracks: social sciences/humanities, math/science, fine arts, home business.
Mathematics: Students should gain sufficient skills so that they are not blocked out of their chosen careers. Algebra and geometry are basic. After this, students may specialize: advanced mathematics for science majors, business math and statistics for other tracks.
Social science: law, Constitution, economics, civics: local government
History: Bible history, Church history, Western civilization, national history, histories of science or business or literature (depending on track)
The high school history, social science, and literature courses must be taught in chronological overlap, thereby reinforcing the student's understanding of the covenantal warfare between the kingdoms.
Science: the courses must be creationist. Students must learn the rival interpretations: Darwinism vs. creationism.
A major term papers is assigned each year in each non-science course.
Every student is required in the junior year to set up a blog site or Website on an academic subject.
The students must be trained to graduate from college, preferably through distance learning at the lowest possible cost. They should expect to pay their own way.
Students will be encouraged to start home businesses before graduation.
Modern foreign languages are best learned from digital-based programs, foreign language radio/television (Web), and living abroad for a year. They will not be part of this free curriculum.
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Spoken foreign languages have only rarely been taught successfully in formal high school courses in the United States. Let us not pursue that which formal education is incapable of imparting without skilled classroom instruction -- language immersion. If parents want this for their children, they can send their children (as I did) to the summer language villages sponsored by Concordia.
What about Latin? It will not be part of this on-site curriculum. What about Greek? Same. What about Hebrew? Same. Other free curriculum programs may offer these at some point. If so, they will be recommended as electives. They should begin in first grade. Why? Because of the following.
The Lost Tools of Learning
This was the title of a 1947 article by Dorothy Sayers, who was a single mom, a novelist, and an advertising copywriter. I first read it in 1961. I helped popularize it in Protestant educational circles in 1977, which you can read here. Or you can read it here.
Her focus was Roman Catholicism's educational system in the Middle Ages. She offered a thesis: the medieval trivium of grammar, logic, and rhetoric paralleled the stages of development of learning in children: memorization-logic-persuasion.
She was unaware of a far more important link. Biblical hermeneutics (interpretation) has always involved grammar, logic, and rhetoric. There is the grammatical-historical interpretation. There is the theological interpretation. There is the allegorical-symbolic interpretation. Most theologians adopt one of these as primary. They all use all three.
I once gave a lecture to direct-response marketers on how these three govern the writing of advertising copy, a skill that I have developed over the years.
Sayers recommended teaching Latin to young children. I do not. If you are going to teach a dead language, teach koine Greek, the language of the New Testament. The only possible use of Latin would be to translate medieval/early modern texts -- lots of minor theological works from the Medieval West and Reformation period. This is not what many students will ever spend their lives doing.