Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Judah Bible Curriculum (Principle Approach)

Have you ever heard of "The Principle Approach" to education? What is it?

I will try to answer this question, as I discuss the Judah Bible Curriculum (A "Principle Approach" to studying the Bible), which we were recently sent for review.

I think the first order of business is to define "principle":

principle |ˈprinsəpəl|
1 a fundamental truth or proposition that serves as the foundation for a system of belief or behavior or for a chain of reasoning. ORIGIN late Middle English : from Old French, from Latin principium ‘source,’ principia (plural) ‘foundations,’ from princeps, princip- ‘first, chief.’

So a Principle Approach Bible curriculum that is based on the fundamental truths, the foundational source of Christianity must clearly take as its text.... the Bible.

Understanding this definition makes it easier to understand that the Judah Bible Curriculum is less of a curriculum, and more of a method of study. Bill Burtness, author of the Judah Bible Curriculum is clearly concerned with the prevalence of "Glossy, Sunday Christianity" and the lack of Biblical literacy not only in our general culture, but sadly in the church as well.

An overview of the Judah Bible Curriculum Philosophy  can be found at this link. The extremely basic, and short version is that your philosophy of Government will influence your philosophy of Education, and vice versa. The contention is presented that there are 3 basic philosophies of government or sovereignty: Individuals Reign, the Government Reigns, or God Reigns. 

  • If the individual is sovereign there is no government and anarchy reigns.
  • If the government is sovereign there is a loss of freedom, and socialism and tyranny reign.
  • If God is sovereign, the individual is governed internally, based on their faith, and Liberty and Law reign.
The Judah Bible Curriculum splits the Bible into 5 basic themes:
  1. Creation
  2. The Plan of Redemption Begins
  3. Kingdom of Israel
  4. Kingdom of God
  5. Early Church
Each theme is covered more in depth each year, with a focus on different "Bible Keys" each time. 

Now that I've covered the concept a little bit, what exactly was included? 
  • Judah Bible Curriculum K-12 Manual, e-book format to download: This includes an in-depth overview of the principle approach, the themes and schedules(Scope and sequence can be seen here), as well as some sample, filled-out "key" sheets. The appendix includes many of the visuals that are referred to in the Eight Lecture Teacher Training Seminar.
  • Elementary Notebook Ideas booklet to view online or download~ This is not a "print-and-go" sort of document, but rather a compendium of completed pages and projects that others have used to fill out their notebooks when using the Judah Bible Curriculum. 
  • Eight-lecture Teacher Training Seminar. listen online or download. These lectures follow the curriculum and the manual to some degree, but not precisely. There is a "Teacher walk-through" on the website, available once you purchase, which is useful to check out as you listen to the Seminars, and the appendix in the manual is also useful (However, the page numbers referenced throughout the seminar do not match the manual, so be aware of that). There are also figures and illustrations referenced in the lectures that will throw the visual oriented teacher for a bit of a loop (The series would be very well done as a video vs audio, in my opinion). 
A key portion of this study method(For upper elementary and high school ages) is the Key Sheet. There are "key sheets" for events, people, and institutions. The concept is to choose the appropriate sheet for each "Key" you are studying, and fill out each section. For instance, the basic Key Event sheets ask 4 basic questions
  • Cause and Purpose of the event
  • Key Individuals
  • Principles of Civil Government
  • Historical Significance
There are some sub-questions for each category, and the student will hopefully be able to answer those that are applicable. This was a bit of a problem in our house, as I *do* have industrious children who want to fill in the answers to ALL the questions, and then get frustrated when they can't find the answer because the question doesn't apply to that particular event, person, or institution.

The Judah Bible Curriculum is intended for use from K-12 (With cyclical studies, similar to a Classical Approach). I would say that it is very teacher intensive, particularly in the younger years, as it is advised to have each child compile their own notebook, with a page for each topic studied. This could be as simple as a drawing or narrating what they remember (If your children are used to the Charlotte Mason methods, this would fit right in), or creating a little poster or mini-book. There is also a recommendation for "Quizzes" and "Assigned Essays." However, those are not supplied, so it is once again, up to the teacher. If one is used to creating their own Unit Studies, this aspect will certainly be appealing.

Regarding the Teacher Seminars, I felt very much like I was sitting in on a bunch of sermons vs. teacher lectures, but that could be based on my Preacher's Kid background. ;) These audios remind me very much of my father's style of preaching/teaching, which is very thorough and inductive. Each lecture is intended to give some information to the teacher which can then be discussed with the students as they fill out their key sheets. These could be very helpful for someone who doesn't have an extensive background in Bible Study. However, the teacher still has to distill the information they want to impart to their students, this is not a "plug-and-play" curriculum.

I wish that I had been able to spend more than 6 weeks trying to wrap my head around the basic concepts~ I have the feeling that I am making things more difficult than intended (I like to "answer all the questions" just as much as my kids, which can sometimes be a problem!). I totally appreciate the concept being taught, but call me lazy, I would be much happier if there was just a bit more work done for me (ie, handouts, coloring pages for the littles, quizzes, and essay questions).

Nitty Gritty~
Company~ The Judah Bible Curriculum
Ages~ K-12  (Classical approach)
Purchase ~ Electronic version~ $44   Hard copy~ $74 (inc. shipping)

Because we are all coming to the table at different seasons of life, and from different backgrounds, it might be very useful for you to check out some of the other TOS Review Crew blog posts, and see what someone with a background similar to yours thought (With 100-ish of us on a review, we should be fairly diverse).

As always, I hope that this review was helpful as you choose where to most wisely spend your homeschool budget.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this/these item(s)/service for free as part of the TOS Crew Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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