- Teacher/Mentor: Gail K Efting
- Type of Class: Weekly Drop-in Parent Discussion Group
- Class Fee: None – Open to all homeschooling parents
- Additional counseling or consultation is available from: Gail Efting
- Online Program Fee: $20.00 per person (if you desire access to other materials requested)
- Online Classes on another day available, same cost on class fee and program fee
- Shelter-in-Place Online classes, same cost on class fee and program fee
- Questions: Contact Gail Efting at BALMInstitute@gmail.com
- Minimum & Maximum Class size: minimum – 5 maximum – 25 parents
Credit: All life skills necessary to navigate Biblical counseling, parenting or homeschooling can be covered. Nothing is off base. No school credit, except, of course, from the “school of life”. ☺ Join us when you can, and we will talk about anything you like.
Other classes available for distance learning on other day as there is interest. Please go to www.balm.pathwright.com for course choices. Arrangements for timing will be made based on demand and availability.
Welcome back to a new year of discovery, adventure, and growth! I know God will use you mightily in the lives of your students this year!
When John Dewey wrote his Pedagogic Creed in 1897, he began in earnest to push for the type of school system we are all familiar with today, with the goal of social reconstruction and reform, where the study of God or His precepts really have no part. This mind set pervades not only the primary and secondary school systems, but most undergraduate and graduate degree programs in the US, as well. That includes most Christian schools, too, by the way.
Professional Christian educators try to compensate for this “God free” assumption in the system by working at incorporating God and Biblical thinking back into the academics. Good Christian schools require the study of Holy Scripture, add prayer and worship times to the day, and work Christian precepts into conceptual development. Sometimes Christian homeschool curriculum providers even follow this example and provide Bible verses to memorize or copy, or materials which encourage comparisons between historical and Biblical figures. This goal of compensation is a good one, but (in my opinion) it’s backwards. Please let me explain.
For over a thousand years, before the progressive movement in education took hold of western culture, Theology was considered the “Queen of the Sciences”. The study of God was the center of the study of everything. In other words, God, His Word, and His works were not added to the curriculum, they were the foundation for the curriculum! In many ways, this central focus on true Christian Theology created the foundation for the understanding of the universe as we know it today. For example, Galileo remarked, “Mathematics is the language in which God has written the universe.” Bach wrote new and complicated polyphonies, “Soli Deo Gloria” (for the glory of God), and later Handel created masterful performance works inspired by Scripture. Great legal minds started with God’s Law (Aquinas, Blackstone, etc.) and many of the greatest literary classics were written from a Christian world view.
Without the Christian mindset, we would have had no Scientific Method. Newton and others were able to extrapolate laws of physics, which were verifiable, through the intentional repetition of observed events. If God’s physical laws were not consistent and predictable there would be no point in repeating tests to ascertain them. Where deities were fickle (as the Greek and Roman gods were), or easily angered at being tested (as the Islamic and Hindu gods are) true science cannot be allowed to develop. As brilliant as he was, Aristotle merely observed – he didn’t do experiments!
Out of this foundational understanding of the nature of God and His works came four major areas of study. These four areas are;
The heavens are telling of the glory of God…
-an understanding of God’s created universe (mathematics, geology, astronomy, physics, biology, chemistry, etc.),
The law of the LORD is perfect…
-an understanding of Man’s response to God (history, music and the arts, economics, law, philosophy, psychology, etc.),
Who can discern his errors?
-The ability to think clearly and effectively (absorption of new information, logic, synthesis, comparison, analysis, discernment, etc.),
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight, O LORD!
-the ability to communicate meaningfully (rhetoric, reading comprehension, language(s), grammar and syntax, spelling, composition, speech and argumentation, etc.).
With a Biblical cultural mindset, when people had an eternal motivation, everything they learned was related to it, and served an eternal purpose. It was important, and useful for the glory of God, and it stuck. And when people veered away from the truth in Scripture they made mistakes. We still do. ☺
That’s why I generally recommend an educational approach based upon the understanding of God (and His created universe) as generally revealed by God around us and as specifically revealed by God to us through the Holy Bible, which is completely inerrant, without exception. Rather than trying to modify the Dewey “school system” approach to accomplish your homeschooling endeavor, how about starting with a theological approach? Of course, these four areas of study (or ANY study for that matter) are not useful in REAL life (the Kingdom life) without the ability to live wisely (practical living skills, appropriate application of Scripture, etc.)!
I suggest you try not starting with your ideas for subjects to study – instead, start with your student’s need for God. When you are scheduling your day, don’t set up your core subjects first – build the day around the actual spiritual needs of the students, and “God sightings”, setting aside time to be steeped in the Word!
When setting goals or objectives, keep the eternal perspective in mind. When determining the approach and content of any educational program, first determine how it fits into your theology. This will, to a great extent, affect your methods (how), intent (why) and content (what) in teaching. Remember, a highly educated, prideful fool who rejects God, has a sad life, no matter how well off they may be. But a mighty man or woman of God, who loves the Lord and His precepts, and lives on His promises, for His purpose, will experience true joy no matter what life brings. Isn’t that really what we want for our students?
Over the next year, if you like, we can delve into each of the four areas of study listed above, with recommendations for materials and application. In the mean time, here are a few suggestions for consideration, as you prepare for the coming year;
- Teach and guide because you are responsible to God and it is a privilege to you.
- Communicate clearly, succinctly and with great enthusiasm.
- Relax and enjoy yourself. Remember, learning itself can be enjoyable.
- Demonstrate your confidence in your student, and in God’s design, with your attitude, manner and actions. Your student will live up (or down) to your expectations.
- Constantly provide new information. This is the spice in every successful program. Effective teaching means consistently enticing the student to desire to learn more.
- When the information has been absorbed, go on. If a student is bored or restless, either the material was not understood properly, or s/he already knows the information. Remember to suggest review in a different context later.
- Teach or guide with purpose and in an organized way. Goals should be set consistently and be reviewed often. Begin each area with a commitment to complete a thorough program for that area.
- Provide an environment free from visual, auditory and tactile distractions. Set aside the screen, phone, music, and other dis-tractions. Use an area free from visual chaos. Have all materials ready.
- Teach and guide only at the times when your student is well. A student who is tired, sick, sleep deprived, or in pain has internal distractions just as real as external ones.
- Present learning as a privilege. The information and guidance you are giving your student is precious. It is also a way of showing respect for your student and obedience to God. It is a reward for excellent behavior, not a penalty for poor behavior. Moore’s triad, “work, learn, serve” is a good approach to apply here.
- ALWAYS tell the truth. If you are presenting factual information (and hopefully you have checked this), you must never give the student any reason to disbelieve the truth. Also, point out inaccurate statements where ever they appear. A world view which rejects or ignores truth demonstrates a lack of respect for God and destroys trust.
- Keep your promises. If you are to be an accurate reflection of Christ in your student’s life, be faithful as He is faithful. In this way, your example to your student glorifies God.
- Occasionally your student will come to wrong answers. Without criticism or condemnation, simply ask questions, or give clues which help the student to reach the right answer by thinking it through. In this way you provide your student with a method for finding the right answer in the future, and you encourage a growth mindset.
- DON’T test your student in front of others, or ask them to ‘display’ information on call. Students will want to demonstrate what they know AFTER confidence is gained. Your focus should be on preparing students to be ready always to give an answer, not just building a ‘product’ orientation. When they are prepared, it will be obvious.
- When students ask you a factual question, answer factually. When the student asks you a discussion question, encourage response from the others, or thoughtful analysis from the student who asked. Is the question appropriate to the topic at hand? If so, don’t put the question off if you can possibly avoid it. Is it off topic, but tangential? Acknowledge this and encourage the student to research the question and present the answer at a future time. Is it completely off topic? Acknowledge this and ask the student to find the answer or ask you at another time. Please remember, success creates motivation, while failure provides learning opportunities. Do not constantly focus on where you or your student have failed. Every failure is a blessing, if it leads to growth! Acknowledge the failure and put in the correction, but focus more frequently on successes. This will stimulate you and the student to repeat that success.
It is worth remembering that you are not simply teaching your own children, you are also teaching your grandchildren’s parents how to teach their children.
Homeschooling Shortcut (Psalm 19 in it’s Poetic Form)
The heavens are telling of the glory of God;
and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.
Day to day pours forth speech,
and night to night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech,
nor are there words;
their voice is not heard.
Their line has gone out through all the earth,
and their utterances to the end of the world.
In them He has placed a tent for the sun,
which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber;
it rejoices as a strong man to run his course.
Its rising is from one end of the heavens,
and its circuit to the other end of them;
and there is nothing hidden from its heat.
The law of the LORD is perfect, restoring the soul;
The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.
The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.
The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever.
The judgments of the LORD are true, they are righteous altogether.
They are more desirable than gold,
yes, than much fine gold
sweeter also than honey
and the drippings of the honeycomb.
Moreover, by them Thy servant is warned,
in keeping them there is great reward.
Who can discern his errors?
Acquit me of hidden faults.
Also keep back Thy servant from presumptuous sins,
Let them not rule over me.
Then I shall be blameless,
and I shall be acquitted of great transgression.
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer. Amen!
Some suggested summer reading for you (NOT all at once!):
The Christian Mind, Harry Blamires
The Post-Christian Mind, Blamires
Home Grown Kids, Raymond and Dorothy Moore
The Successful Homeschool Family Handbook, Moores
Homeschool Burnout. What it is. What Causes it. How to overcome it., Moores
Essential Truths of the Christian Faith, RC Sproul
Now That’s a Good Question, Sproul
Knowing Scripture, Sproul
Knowing God, J.I Packer
Desiring God Jon Piper
The Discarded Image, C.S. Lewis
Know What You Believe, Paul Little
Know Why You Believe, Little
How to Read Slowly, James Sire
Habits of the Mind, Intellectual Life as a Christian Calling, Sire
We each need to be ‘comfortable in our own skin’ if we are to support each other in following the Titus 2 model of mentoring our students. Please feel free to take the opportunity for us to hammer things out together… anything is up for discussion.
Just to get the juices flowing, here are some ideas/examples for discussion this year:
1.Over the last 20 years, I have spoken at length with many students in BALM classes about Biblical application and discern-ment. At the beginning, many didn’t see the Bible as valid for ‘regular’ use—it doesn’t seem to be applicable to the realworld for them. They often live split lives; the Bible is for homeschool and Sundays — but the outside world is about real lifestuff. How can we help them to apply Biblical precepts to ALL of life?
2.In one survey (Willow Creek Church), a thousand young adults who had stopped associating with Christian churches were asked if they believed that all the accounts and stories in the Bible are true and accurate. Of those, 44 percent said ‘no’, 38percent said ‘yes’, and 18 percent didn’t know. Those who said ‘no’ were asked this follow-up question: If you don’t believe all the accounts and stories in the Bible are true and accurate, what made you begin to doubt the Bible?
•24% It was written by men.
•18% It was not translated correctly.
•15% The Bible contradicts itself.
•14% Science shows the world is old.
•11% The Bible has errors.
•7% There’s so much suffering in the world.
•4% Christians don’t live by the Bible.
•4% Evolution proves that the Bible is wrong.
3.When asked, “Does the Bible contain errors?” (Willow Creek) forty percent said “yes”, and another 30 percent didn’t know.Only 30 percent said that the Bible does not contain errors. Of those who said that the Bible does contain errors, these were the supposed errors that they pointed out:
•22% Alleged contradictions
•18% The writers made mistakes.
•10% The Bible is wrong about the young age for the earth.
•6% There is too much suffering and death in the Bible.
•5% Genesis has been disproved by science.
•2% Miracles do not occur.
•2% There was never a global flood.
4.Ken Ham wrote,
There is considerable debate about whether the disengagement of young people is a life stage issue—that is, a predictable element in the progression of people’s development as they go through various family, occupational, and chronological stages—or whether it is unique to this generation. While there is some truth to both explanations, this debate misses the point, which is that the ministry to twenty-somethings is woefully inadequate to address the spiritual needs of millions of young adults. These individuals are making significant life choices and determining the patterns and preferences of their spiritual reality while churches wait, generally in vain, for them to return after college or when the kids come. When and if young adults do return to churches, it is difficult to convince them that a passionate pursuit of Christ is anything more than a nice add-on to their cluttered lifestyle.
So how do we “do” church? How can we BE the Ecclesia – the Body of Christ to the world?
They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles. And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and break-ing bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved. (Acts
About Your Instructor located at the end of this document.
Contacting the Teacher: If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please feel free to send Gail Efting an e-mail at BALMInstitute@gmail.com. Please make sure you put, “HEART Parent Q & A”, your name, and your topic in the subject line of your note.
Teacher Assistant Position Available: No TA position is currently available for this group. If you would like to enjoy some lively discussions with curious and insightful parents, please send Gail Efting by e-mail immediately.
Assignments before classes begin: Send Gail Efting an e-mail at BALMInstitute@gmail.com. In the subject line enter “HEART Q & A” and your name. As soon as confirmation of your registration for this class has been received, you will re-ceive a student ID and password by email, from BALMpathwright. (Make sure you check you spam folder, in case your sys-tem rejects it.) Please go online, to the URL given, and begin the intro process for this discussion group. You will be asked to complete sign up before classes begin. Please make sure you have set up your parent account online no later than Aug. 25th, 2020.