What is a Principle Approach School?6 min read

by Leslie Schmucker
What is a Principle Approach School?<span class="wtr-time-wrap after-title"><span class="wtr-time-number">6</span> min read</span>
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Dayspring Christian Academy, like many private Christian schools that teach Christian principles, ascribes to a Classical Christian form of education.

Classical: adj. 1. Relating to ancient Greek and Roman authors of the first rank or estimation, which, in modern times, have been and still are studied as the best models of fine writing… 2. Pertaining to writers of the first rank among the moderns; being of the first order; constituting the best model or authority as an author… Hence classical denotes pure, chaste, correct, refined; as a classical taste; a classical style. (Webster)

What is the Difference Between Conventional Schools and Classical Schools?

Classical schools differ from conventional schools in that Classical educators teach from the presupposition that “the world makes sense and that the sense it makes is knowable” ( CiRCE ). This principle is called the Logos. By contrast, conventional educators focus not on discovering the order and sense of the world, but on how to teach what is practical and useful in a chaotic, disorderly world. Classical education seeks to teach to the ideals of wisdom and virtue, where conventional education seeks to teach pragmatics.

Christian principles in schools do you know what your child is learning?Classical education, based on ancient Greek and Roman methodology, pursues the study of the nature of man, in order to elevate man with the end goal of “knowing thyself.” By contrast, Classical Christian Education is based on the Hebrew methodology of education, which is to teach with the end goal of “knowing God.” Classical Christian education seeks to acquire knowledge in order to know Christ and elevate him. The Logos of Classical Christian education is Christ.

In either case, the study of great books and a rigorous and rich curriculum make up the core values of Classical education, with the goal of seeking wisdom, virtue, and greatness through the study of the classics. The desired end is to produce citizens of excellence and moral values.

A Classical Christian School with a Principle Approach Philosophy

Dayspring Christian Academy is a Classical Christian school that ascribes to a philosophy called the Principle Approach, the method of education employed in America from its founding until roughly 100 years ago. The Principle Approach teaches students to reason biblically in every area of life, through a focus on seven core principles. The Foundation for American Christian Education outlines the principles as:

God’s Principle of Individuality

Doctrinal Application: Our God is Himself an Individual who made us in His image for a providential purpose.

Personal Application: My unique individuality has a purposeful destiny that can only be fulfilled through Christ’s redemption.

The Principle of Christian Self-Government

Doctrinal Application: Knowing God through Christ teaches me to obey Him and enjoy liberty with law.

Personal Application: I am only properly self-governed when governed by Christ.

The Principle of Christian Character

Doctrinal Application: As my character is forged by Christ, I reach my fullest expression and enjoy harmony with others.

Personal Application: My character predicts the success and happiness of fulfilling my destiny.

Conscience is the Most Sacred Property

Doctrinal Application: Righteous law protects life and property; consent is the title to conscience.

Personal Application: My stewardship of property, both internal and external, has consequences.

Christian principles The Christian Form of Our Government

Doctrinal Application: The form of government proven to best protect life and property is a Christian constitutional federal republic.

Personal Application: As I learn to think governmentally, I can balance the three powers of government to avert the tyranny of self in my personal conduct.

Planting the Seed of Local Self-Government

Doctrinal Application: Education is the cause to effect the multi-generational maintenance of a Christian republic.

Personal Application: I continually sow seeds in my thought, speech, and action; consequently, I continually reap the results.

American Political Union

Doctrinal Application: The internal gives rise to the external.

Personal Application: Internal unity spawns external union.

What is the distinction between traditional Classical Christian education and Classical Christian education that employs the Principle Approach?

Principle Approach augments Classical Christian education by putting biblical principles at the core of every subject, not just tacking Bible classes onto a traditional Classical Christian curriculum. It promotes the idea that mastery of every subject is based on the understanding of that subject through a biblical lens or worldview. Principle Approach teachers strive to inculcate students with the ability to apply biblical principles to every area of life.

Through the Principle Approach, each subject is taught in view of God’s providence. Most subjects are taught from original sources, and not a textbook.

“…what we need more than anything else is not textbooks but text-people. It is the personality of the teacher which is the text that the pupils read; the text they will never forget.” (Marvin Wilson)

The Principle Approach places a strong emphasis on character, because the Bible shows us that character is the primary cause of every action and its effect. Internal and external qualities of prominent individuals are scrutinized as examples of “diligence, industry, and productivity in obedience to God.” (Carol Adams)

Christian principles in schools - teaching the principle approach methodUsing the Principle Approach, Dayspring Christian Academy employs classic literature, original source historical material, the teaching of science that presupposes a Creation narrative while contrasting other worldviews, mathematics taught as integral to God’s character, intensive studies in Old and New Testament, Rhetoric, Hermeneutics, Latin, Greek, and the arts, all with the ubiquity of scripture and its principles in and across each subject.

“The Bible demonstrates the emphasis on reasoning from principles. Without this emphasis, information has no base meaning and therefore has no absolute value” states Dr. Carole Adams, president of The Foundation for American Christian Education, teacher, author, and founder of StoneBridge School, a Principle Approach School in Chesapeake, VA.

Dayspring’s tagline, “Bold, Distinctive, Biblical,” was born from its adherence to Classical Christian education through the Principle Approach. The focal point is the Logos, Jesus Christ, who “is before all things and in whom all things hold together” (Colossians 1:17). Dayspring’s ultimate goal and prayer is that each student will know and follow Christ, and, in and through him, become citizens of excellence and moral character wherever God calls them.

This article was originally published on August 7th, 2018, and has been updated for accuracy. 

At Dayspring Christian Academy, we are committed to raising up the next generation of leaders of Christian character who acknowledge the Lordship of Jesus Christ in every area of life, demonstrate a biblical worldview, become citizens of excellence in Christian character and scholarship, and aid in the restoration of America’s biblical foundation. If you would like to learn more about Dayspring Christian Academy, please contact Karol Hasting at 717-285-2000 or schedule a private tour using the button below.