“What if the primary work of education was the transforming of our imagination rather than the saturation of our intellect? And what if it had as much to do with our bodies as with our minds? What if education wasn’t first and foremost about what we know, but about what we love!” -J.K.A. Smith
Have you ever wished for a Bible curriculum that didn’t choose between being devotional and academic? A curriculum that taught details in a fun way while slowly revealing the big picture? One that included memory verses, children’s catechisms, vocabulary and geography, so that the work is all done for you? I have been using Classical Academic Press Bible with my three youngest this year and it does all this. I absolutely love it. CAP Bible is a four-year, full Bible curriculum written from a Covenantal point of view. It is great for parents who want to take Bible seriously as an academic subject, while still keeping it Christ-centered and fun.
First, I love this Bible because it weaves so many aspects of Bible knowledge together. It teaches chronologically and includes a wide variety of story facts, but it always shows how every story is really about Jesus. God’s character and His unfolding Covenantal plan are central. It teaches children’s catechism, Bible geography, and basic theology. It also teaches Biblical and theological vocabulary. My third grader is now comfortable with words like Elohim, Sanctification and Redemption. Nothing is dumbed down in this curriculum, but true to Classical Academic Press style, difficult concepts are broken down and taught in such a clear way that even small children can understand.
My fifth and sixth graders are working through book 3, the Gospels. This level moves chronologically through Jesus’s life. My kids read the passages from each gospel having to do with the story for the week. Together we work through comparative charts, maps and worksheets. They can now tell which gospel a person is reading from without hearing the passage because they understand the audience each gospel writer was focusing on. They learn many story facts, vocabulary, and basic theology, but again, the central them is Jesus’ character, His goodness, mercy, justice, and grace.
This is a great curriculum to give kids a foundational knowledge of scripture so that they can move on to doctrinal studies in junior high and high school. Most importantly, it’s fun. I don’t want my children to just know the Bible, I want them to love it. I wish this curriculum had been around when my teens were younger.
I have always taught my children that love is stronger than hate. Countless stories in history illustrate this, and of course, there is the Ultimate Example in Scripture. It’s funny, though, how real life can come crashing through our ideologies. Reality, for us, came in the form of eleven scraggly, nine to twelve-year-old boys.
They stood barefoot, on cracked cement, daring my kids to play in their own yard. Most of these boys came from single parent homes where their mothers worked long hours, leaving them unsupervised. My kids had been afraid to leave the house for several days.
My boys needed to defend themselves in order to win respect, yet I didn’t want them becoming part of some “might makes right”, Darwinian culture. As I was contemplating, a fairy tale my old pastor had written came to mind. The main character, needing to be a hero, but not having the weapons to do so, began shouting, “Love is powerful to save!” I realized more clearly how we needed to fight.
I looked at these insecure ragamuffins, trying desperately to find communion with each other in a common enemy. Waiting behind an open door, I sent my boys out. The moment they saw me they would disperse. My boys were to defend each other, with cheer, not anger, as if they were tumbling with friends. It didn’t matter if they won. What mattered was that they were brave and kind. Then they were to invite the little “gang” over and attempt to befriend them. Our story would be stronger than their story.
First there was a loud scuffle, then talking, and then fourteen boys sitting happily on my front porch eating popsicles. My twelve year old later told me, “They all jumped on me, but then started fighting each other. So, I crawled out and invited them over.”
They talked, comparing home school to public and picking favorite T.V. characters. Soon the conversation turned. The leader whispered to my son, “Shh, don’t tell your mom, but go get the rest of the popsicles from the freezer.” When my son refused, the boy bragged, “I steal all the time, ’cause I’m sneaky like that!”
My son asked, “But don’t you ever think about the people you steal from?”
At this, my boys were declared “nerds” and many of the neighborhood kids moved on, leaving popsicle wrapper scattered. The bullying subsided, though. The few remaining boys became regulars at our house. By the time we moved they had heard the gospel many times. They joined us for Sabbath dinner, holding their own in Bible memory games. When they were mean, we would step aside and pray together for God’s forgiveness. They tagged along for church and played catch with my husband afterward. During the summer, they would appear after breakfast and stay until bedtime. Their attitudes toward life began to change.
It would be convenient to end my story here, nice and tidy. Gospel living, though, is messy – like a war. At first, my kids tattled on the neighbor kids, appalled at some of their behavior. After a while, they began to look on them as friends. As I attempted to order the affections of the children in my neighborhood, they were in turn influencing my own children’s desires. My kids liked this loose culture. There was no mortification of the flesh, no self-sacrifice. One son began sagging his pants. My daughters imitated inappropriate dances neighbor girls copied from MTV. My boys decided it was cool to pick on their little sisters. A hardness entered their hearts.
My older kids understood the concept of “worldview”. They were being classically educated, after all. We had spent time in history class watching ideas incarnate themselves into culture. My boys could use inductive logic to point out textbook fallacies. I noticed their knowledge become fuzzy and their logic twisted, as they tried to excuse unacceptable behavior, songs and movies. The enemy was not attacking their logic and knowledge alone; he was attacking their heart. Without love, these tools were nothing.
I began turning the neighbor kids away. My arrows were not yet sharp enough for more. How my heart saddened as I watched my influence wane! I turned my attention to my own quiver. It took many conversations, much prayer and perseverance, but their hearts did eventually soften- a more awake, more aware soft. They had always known they were sinners. Now they really understood. I questioned the value of all we had done for our neighbors. Would everything I taught them be lost in the fog of childhood memories?
The family we had grown closest to was evicted. Before they left, their mother visited. She explained how a nice, Christian family had offered her a rental house for less than half its value. This family had visited often and had made an effort to become part of her life. I smiled. Their story was not over yet. My mistake in all this was to think so much was dependent on me. Others were fighting this same battle. Love is powerful to save, but not my love.
Soon after, we moved also, to a middle class neighborhood. Broken cement and beer bottles have been replaced with perfect hedges and shiny cars. The side-walks lie empty. Everyone is busy living their own life. I am much more careful to prioritize my own kids. They are my first mission field. Yet, I believe God put us in this neighborhood with some intention. How else will my children learn to love their neighbor if they are not apprenticing now? So, here we are. No one is knocking on our door or even throwing rocks for us to respond to. Love is stronger than apathy? Pride? Love is stronger than individualism? Busy materialism? My own timidity? Our story is just beginning in this new place. I don’t know how the story will go, but I do know this: His love is powerful to save.
Saw this on the “Hard-Core Christianity” blog and would like to pass it on. It is an easy to watch, well made video. I think it would be a great introduction for young teen who are beginning their studies in logic.
There is an interesting phenomenon in apologetics debate: skeptics attempting to argue against the existence of God using evidence thought to discredit Christianity.
This tactic is fundamentally flawed. Whether or not Christianity is true is a different question than whether or not God exists. (Note that I am using the minimal definition that the skeptic usually has in mind for “God”: an immaterial, transcendent entity with agency. It’s key to clarify this in your discussions.) So, even a skeptic’s strongest arguments against the Christian faith are not automatically arguments against the existence of God. Now, it is possible to argue in the opposite direction; any good argument against the existence of God (an immaterial, transcendent entity with agency) would automatically apply against the truth claims of Christianity, since Christianity requires God’s existence.
There seems to be widespread confusion on this, so I hope I have helped to clarify things. Friends don’t…
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It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.
Anthony Ensolen, a Catholic professor at Providence College, has written an excellent cultural critique called “Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child”. It is a witty, sarcastic look at modern parenting techniques, and how these parenting habits affect our children and our culture. Written in “Screwtape Letter” style, he gives 10 ways we should, or rather ways our society is destroying the imagination of our children. So here are the 10 ways:
1. Keep Your Children Indoors as Much as Possible
2. Never Leave Your Children to Themselves
3. Keep Children Away From Machines and Machinists
4. Replace the Fairy Tale with Political clichés and Fads
5. Cast Aspersions upon the Heroic and Patriotic
6. Cut All Heroes Down to Size
7. Reduce All Talk of Love to Narcissism and Sex
8. Level Distinctions Between Man and Woman
9. Distract Child with the Shallow and Unreal
10.Deny the Transcendent
Sometimes cultural critique books can leave me discouraged. This books encouraged me to continue on with the good I’ve done as a parent and exposed areas I have overlooked. The primary reason I liked this book is that the subject is so critical to the health of our culture.
It is impossible to be truly educated without an active imagination. It is foundational for logical thought. In order to think logically, one must first gather all the facts. In order to do that a person must ask the right questions; for that, one must imagine what questions ought to be asked.
I have often seen this lack of imagination evident in political debates. How many Christians have been called “homophobes”? Are there no other reasons to be opposed to gay marriage than a deep, irrational fear of change? No one asks for other reasons; they do not have enough imagination to think of questions to ask. They base their conclusions on a vague hypothesis, without gathering any data. Then there’s abortion. Pro-lifers are told they do not uphold women’s rights. If pro-choice advocates had an imagination they would begin asking questions. What are rights? Where do they come from? Is a woman truly helped by abortion? Are there statistics? What is a baby? What does a baby feel like when aborted? (Imagination is also foundational to empathy.)
Although Agnostics excel at this type of thinking, Christians fall into it too. The man, for example, who shoves his Bible at an Atheist in attempt to show him his sin, or the sign waver screaming at the insecure gay paraders. An imagination helps us to be open-minded, not as a relativist, but in all the right ways.
Politics are not the only arena where imagination in needful. It is needed for life in general. This book is a guide for developing your child’s imagination so they can grow into logical, empathetic adults.
“The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.”
– Albert Einstein
“True teaching occurs when three things happen: When the people are instructed, delighted and moved.”
I switched from Singapore to Saxon to Rod and Staff. I plan on staying. R&S Math seems to have all the things I liked in Singapore and Saxon without all the drawbacks. For example, Singapore does a wonderful job with concrete to abstract teaching. R&S does this too, but instead of using base 10 blocks for the concrete, they simply use real life examples. I also liked Singapore’s mental math, R&S Math has that built into the teacher’s manual, a bit more slowly, but it does get taught. They also have the drill and review that Singapore is missing.
I liked the review in Saxon, but realized my kids did better with a mastery approach. They need the big picture in order to memorize the details, and Saxon never seemed to give the big picture. Instead of breezing through the Saxon review section in order to over learn, my kids were re-learning every concept every day. Rod and Staff builds on one concept at a time in a logical sequence till my kids really get it. Then they continue to review the concept, but at that point it really is just easy review.
At first, I was concerned about R&S Math’s slower scope and sequence, but my children have been easily completing the texts a year ahead of schedule, and I plan on following advice to simply skip 7th grade. Eighth grade has pre-algebra integrated, so my kids will still be ready for Algebra in 8th grade. I was concerned about test scores until I read Highland’s Latin School (makers of Memoria Press) uses Rod and Staff and they score in the top 2% of the nation.
Other things I like, Rod and Staff has lots of story problems and real life math such as finding interest rates, etc…They also do the best job at teaching fractions I’ve seen. Saxon was taking my kids almost and hour and a half everyday, Rod and Staff takes about 45 minutes. After my children had been using Rod and Staff for a few months I began to see a difference in their attitude toward math. Of course, they would still rather play out side than do math, but they have started integrating math into their play. At the grocery store they will calculate prices for fun, because it has become so easy for them.
Things I change: I plan on adding a little more pre-algebra with the last book with Kahn’s Academy (free online). And I only have my kids do the odd problems after the 3rd grade book. This is a lot less tweaking than I’ve had to do with other programs.
“The bringing up, as of a child; instruction; formation of manners. Education comprehends all that series of instruction and disciplines which is intended to enlighten the understanding, correct the temper, and form the manners and habits of youth, and fit them for usefulness in their future stations. To give children a good education in manners, arts and science is important; to give them a religious education is indispensable; and an immense responsibility rests on parents and guardians who neglect these duties.”
~ 1828 Webster’s Dictionary