Tag Archives: homeschool

American Education February, 2014 — Post by Michael J. Findley

boy girl homeschool

This is a never ending topic. It has basically two parts; the problem and the solution.

The Problem

I posted a new study with similar result to studies for the last forty years. This latest study said that only 74% of 2200 Americans surveyed know the earth revolves around the sun.


While the Detroit metropolitan area is the worst in the country, it is reported that they have produced 500,000 functionally illiterate high school graduates. Exact numbers are difficult to verify, because no one wants to know exactly how bad the problem is. But there is universal agreement that nationally there are millions of High School graduates who are functionally illiterate.

The issue is discipline. One hundred years ago a student was required to demonstrate an adequate grasp of the academic material in order to graduate from high school and receive a high school diploma. Yes, there was no molecular biology, computer science, nuclear physics, or many other academic areas of knowledge. But college entrance exams required essays in three languages, one modern (Italian, Spanish, French or German), one ancient (Latin or Greek) and your native language (usually English). Mastery of Trigonometry was required to enter high school.

The important point is that when students were given an assignment, they were graded on their mastery of that material. If they did not demonstrate an adequate grasp of the material, they did not pass the course. Beginning in the 1950s students were promoted who failed to grasp the material. The result today is college students taking remedial English who can neither read nor write their own language.

The entire problem is the inability to enforce discipline. Students who consistently disrupt a class must be removed from the class. Students who refuse to do the work should not be given passing grades.

The Solution

Liberals constantly says that there are a number of problems and every one of them requires more money, time, and government intervention. Some examples of liberal solutions are increased teacher pay to attract better qualified teachers, build better buildings, or to maintain smaller class size.

Ronald Reagan’s Secretary of Education, Dr. William Bennett, did a cost/benefit analysis of Illinois schools when he was in charge of the Illinois school system. While there are many factors involved, he found, as a general rule, the schools which spent the least per student had the highest standardized test scores and the schools which spent the most per student had the worst standardized test scores. Before continuing, Dr. Bennett points out two important factors.

First, there is more to an education than just test scores. Some of the poorest rural schools had little or no extracurricular activities such as music, field trips, sports or outside speakers. So they were losing out in areas that do not show up in test scores.

Second, there is a massive gap in property values between the poorest rural school districts and the wealthiest in the state of Illinois. A school in the wealthiest areas of Chicago might need to spend three times as much money per student as a poor rural district to get the same quality education.

But this means little or nothing to an average parent. Parents in the United States have only three realistic options; the public schools, private schools, and homeschooling. While none of these are easy choices and there are always exceptions to every rule, the rule is the public schools are a poor choice. Private schools are expensive and often offer little improvement over public schools because effective discipline is illegal. Once again, there are some outstanding exceptions, but private schools are not a viable alternative for the average family.

This leaves homeschooling. Homeschooling is very difficult. But the results are outstanding. While homeschoolers can fail just like anyone else, the average homeschooled student will score near the 90th percentile in every area of standardized tests.


Objecting to homeschooling on the basis that students are not socialized is simply based on ignorance. Socialization might not be all that desirable anyway. “Based on their findings, Bonnie Fisher and her colleagues estimate that the women at a college that has 10,000 female students could experience more than 350 rapes a year.”

National Institute of Justice. https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/182369.pdf

These are only reported rapes. Rape is a widely underreported crime. And this does not include other types of assaults or crimes such as robberies.

Once again, there are notable exceptions, but for the average family, homeschooling is the most crime-free option available. Homeschoolers produce plays, form bands, participate in sports (usually individual sports such as swimming, gymnastics or martial arts). They are often introduced early to a work environment. They often contribute to family planning and budgeting.

Homeschooling is neither ideal nor an answer to all problems. But it is a vastly superior option to the government schools.


Filed under Current Issues, Politics, Education, History

How Could You Raise the Price on the Conflict of the Ages?

origin evil world was student 10

10 conflict 1 studentIn case you didn’t know it, we are working on a series called The Conflict of the Ages. It now has two installments:. The Scientific History of Origins, and The Origin of Evil in the World that Was. These are designed for homeschoolers  who want a better grasp of the essentials of world history from a scientific and authoritative point of view. These books fulfill state education requirements for a well-rounded historical and scientific study. They include ancient  sources outside the Bible that echo the truths of literal creation and what the world was like in ancient times. They  merge History and Science, and later will include Literature studies as well. References and supplementary information for further  study comprise more than half of each book. When we first published these, our main concern was to keep them  affordable, so we priced Teacher and Student editions at 99 cents. We have, however, gotten feedback suggesting we “up our game” by adding better organizational structure and illustrations to improve the reader’s experience. The additional material increased the file size and the 99 cent minimum price was no longer an option. We know that economic times are not improving and many families are struggling to pay for homeschool curriculum as it is. But we hope you will consider the “added value” of better organization and illustrations, and consider adding these works to your homeschool curriculum. We’d love to have homeschoolers give this series a try, and to give us your feedback. It’s designed to be in easily manageable modules, between 100-200 pages of main text each, and has Student and Teacher editions, with answer keys and teacher helps included.

These upgraded versions are available now on Smashwords, and should be ready in a few hours on Amazon.

Part One Smashwords Student Edition: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/137138

Part One Smashwords Teacher Edition: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/294493

Part Two Smashwords Student Edition: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/303090

Part Two Smashwords Teacher Edition: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/303093

Part One Amazon Student Edition: http://www.amazon.com/The-Conflict-Ages-Part-ebook/dp/B007ETAAV4

Part One Amazon Teacher Edition: http://www.amazon.com/Conflict-Ages-Part-One-ebook/dp/B00BSJRURS

Part Two Amazon Student Edition: http://www.amazon.com/Conflict-Ages-Part-Two-ebook/dp/B00C7FCRW0/

Part Two Amazon Teacher Edition: http://www.amazon.com/Conflict-Ages-Part-Two-ebook/dp/B00C7FR41E/

10 conflict 1 teacher

origin evil world was teacher 10

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Filed under Bible Teaching, Current Issues, Politics, Excerpts from our Nonfiction Books, History, Scientific, Writing, Reviewing, Publishing, and about Blogging

Homeschool Standardized Results

girl with book

Secularists have questioned how well homeschooled students do on the life science sections of standardized tests, since a belief in evolution is incorporated into the tests. Home-schooled students average in the eighty-sixth percentile, national average K-12, for life sciences. http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/aug/30/home-schooling-outstanding-results-national-tests/

“The study included almost 12,000 home-school students from all 50 states who took three well-known standardized achievements tests — the California Achievement Test, the Iowa Test of Basic Skills and the Stanford Achievement Test — for the 2007-08 academic year. The students were drawn from 15 independent testing services, making it the most comprehensive home-school academic study to date.”

I choose to link to this article because it is representative of many similar studies. While there are exceptions in every category, such as home-schooled students who flunk and home-schooled students with perfect scores, these are average parents who produce exceptional results with very hard work.

But this blog is specifically about evolution and the life sciences. If the home-schooled are not indoctrinated into evolution, why do they do so well in geology and the life sciences?

The following is not based on a study. It is simply based on my personal observations working for decades with of home-schooled students, parents, and developers of curricula.

First, a large number of parents who homeschool believe in evolution and deep time. There are no hard and fast numbers that I am aware of, but one-quarter to one-half of all home-schooling parents believe in evolution, according to estimates.

Second, families who reject evolution are well aware that standardized tests include questions on evolution. Just as Esther did not want to be included in the king’s harem in Persia, we all are thrown into situations beyond our control. Many booklets and websites include the basics of what a student is expected to know about evolution on these standardized tests. It is a matter of conscience for the individual student. Should he put the expected answer which will be graded as correct by the standardized testing service? Or should he put the actual correct answer and have the standardized test mark it as incorrect? Because of the prevalence of secular indoctrination in standardized test taking, parents need to begin ethical training to face this dilemma in preschool.

Third, evolution does not have anything to do with real science, so the real science questions present no ethical problems to students. Over ninety percent of life science questions involve real science, such as, “what is mitosis and how is it different from meiosis?” “What is the genus name for a common frog?”

These are simply my observations which I believe you might find helpful.

Image from http://1photos.com


Filed under Excerpts from our Nonfiction Books, Writing, Reviewing, Publishing, and about Blogging

The Benny and the Bank Robber Historical Adventure Series has new members in the family!

Just out for one more plunge into summer reading, or homeschool literature with history, mystery and adventure, check out the third book in the Benny and the Bank Robber series. Ben Carlisle’s longtime dream has been to travel west with his family. When he is offered a newspaper job in Detroit, he is forced to question whether moving west is really God’s will for him. Can he leave behind his grandfather, the girl he thought he loved, and an opportunity few writers could even dream about? Can he risk the life of one of his best friends, or face an old enemy head-on? What price will he have to pay just to make his writing live?


And don’t forget the other books in the series:

Benny and the Bank Robber


Benny and the Bank Robber: Ten-year-old Benny found the drunken cart driver who caused his father’s death, but he’s got bigger mysteries to solve. A long, sharp knife, a bag of disguises and a savage black stallion don’t reassure Benny about his traveling companion to frontier Missouri. Still, Benny can’t shake the Scripture’s promise that God “will never leave thee nor forsake thee.”


Benny and the Bank Robber 2: Doctor Dad

Benny and the Bank Robber 2: Doctor Dad: What could be easier than getting Benny’s mother remarried? Delay after delay of every one of Benny’s plans shows him he may have to wait for God to “Make all things new.” Identical twins Rose and Violet Mitchell make Benny’s head spin. A mysterious secret society at his boarding school might have deadly plans for Benny. Has Benny’s Doctor Dad prepared him for times as hard as these, even for the temptation of the privilege and comfort his grandfather’s wealth can give him?


The first book has student and teacher editions study guides. Homeschoolers be sure to check them out!

Benny Study Questions Student Edition


Benny Study Questions Teacher Edition





Filed under Excerpts from our Fiction Books, History, Uncategorized

Twenty-Four Titles by Findley Family Video

Findley Family Video now has 24 Titles to offer readers in the e-book realm. Another author I told that to responded by saying “Holy Moley,” and called us “Prolific.” Perhaps I should explain. We have decided to give readers a taste of some of our longer works, excerpts at a lower price so you can see what we’re all about and decide if you want to take the plunge into the full books. Some of the are 5 or 600 pages long, after all. Just in case you haven’t been able to keep up, here’s the roster of 99 cent books from Findley Family Video Publications. (And btw, one of them is 600+ pages and still only 99 cents! That’s Bibilical Studies Teacher Edition, complete student text and answer keys, plus extra projects, and I call that a real bargain!) By the way, if you like the “Serial” format for these books, and would like to see more, just make a comment on this blog post or follow the instructions at the end of each serial book.

Diary of a Christian DogMail Order Mistake?Carrie's Hired HandTeacher's Edition Biblical StudiesThe Conflict of the Ages Part One: The Scientific History of OriginsDeath and Peppermint SticksMy Best Man's MotherThose Society ThingsOT and NT Manuscript HistoryWhy Go to the American Wilderness?Oysters and OrisonsDepths of the PitCity On a Hill

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Filed under Uncategorized, Writing, Reviewing, Publishing, and about Blogging

February Book Releases: The Conflict of the Ages, Part One, Carrie’s Hired Hand and Diary of a Christian Dog

The Conflict of the Ages Part One: The Scientific History of Origins 

The Conflict of the Ages is a Multi-Part exploration of History, Science and Ancient Literature. This first installment covers the concepts of God, time, Creation, physics, cosmology, ans specifics about each day of Creation. We make comparisons with ancient sources to see where they agree with the Scriptural account. We reference classic and modern scientific views, exposing errors, preconceptions, presuppositions and falsehoods taught as fact by the mainstream scientific community. God is the first witness and the Bible the first eyewitness account of beginnings and origins. Other ancient documents contain at least some truths and parallel accounts.




Youtube video Trailer:


A Northerner married to a Southerner gets enough stares and scorn. Carrie doesn’t need more from Robert Salliger, handsome friend of her dying husband. He says Ben’s death is his fault. He swears to take care of Carrie and the children. But she goes home alone, and can’t read the letters that come. When a deaf and dumb boy arrives she is glad for the help but has no idea how much help he will be.



http://www.scribd.com/doc/81996812/Carries-Hired-Hand-Scribd (free here)

YouTube Trailer link


An English Knight begins a diary of his “adventure” joining Louis IX’s First Crusade. The armada to Alexandria encounters a violent storm and the knight and his companions shipwreck. He must make an impossible choice: Cut himself off from his people or face execution. His life of turmoil and terror leads him to peace, but slavery and torture block his quest to find his friend and get home to his father.



http://www.scribd.com/doc/80188123/Diary-Scribd (free here)

You Tube Trailer Link


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Filed under Excerpts from our Fiction Books, Excerpts from our Nonfiction Books, Writing, Reviewing, Publishing, and about Blogging

Evaluation of Complete Homeschool Curricula, Part One

Check out the Homeschool Reviews website. They have information and opinions on many more curricula than we cover here.


Bob Jones University Press

Bob Jones is a private, non-denominational, independent, fundamental University and also has a K-12 education system. They use the King James Bible as a standard for consistency but do not hold to the King James Only philosophy. The Press has been producing curriculum for decades, drawing writers from the Elementary, Academy and University faculty. All the curriculum is written by experienced teachers in the appropriate field and test-taught in the Elementary School or Academy. They also have many novels and nonfiction books, including a few titles available on Kindle, any of which can be used as supplementary reading material.

You can buy individual student copy books on any subject, all the way up to a complete years’ curriculum, videos of teachers teaching, assessments in the online version, and quite a bit of flexibility for students who are at different grade levels in different subjects within a complete year’s program. The complete curriculum comes in online, hard disc, and CD versions, basically the same material, but apparently assessments are only available in the online version. You must have a high speed internet connection to use the online version. This is the highest quality and the best material available. Mary worked at BJU Press as an editor. The content is distinctively biblical, not just surface Christian or morally positive, and it is kept updated. Skilled graphic artists and painters have created colorful, interesting layouts and illustrated content. Instead of completely leaving out secular worldviews or tacking on moral and Christian applications, the curriculum teaches how to judge what is true and false, good and evil, to strengthen convictions and give ammunition to fight the enemy. It is also one of the most expensive, costing over $900 per course. If you can afford it, this is the way to go. If you have three elementary age children, the complete curriculum plus musical instruction will be more than $3000 per year. High school will be more.

Several people have complained that there is too much detail, or that it includes too much material, and does not provide the highly structured lesson plans some curricula do. This is because it gives parents/teachers the option of eliminating material they choose not to cover. One complaint by people is that it is “college level” or “too difficult.” This is designed for a thorough education in a complete Christian worldview, not just basic, get-by schooling. It does require some knowledge on the parent’s part to make choices and plan what to teach and when.

History combines Biographies of Christians and Christian perspectives on historical events, Culture Studies and Geography, with timelines, in Elementary and secondary levels.

The Math program is a unit approach, not an incremental approach like Saxon, but it does use more review than a traditional unit approach. Problem solving and critical thinking skills are included. Teachers are encouraged to emphasize this aspect.

Science Is divided into Physical Science, Life Science, Earth Science, Biology, Physics and Chemistry. They are high quality, well-prepared, and regularly updated.


Sonlight’s founders follow the Reformed Church. They say their curriculum is literature-rich, meaning they sell you colorful readers, fiction for various ages, many award-winning books and controlled-vocabulary readers, and provide instructor’s guidebooks which have comprehension questions. Their philosophy is the “look for teachable moments” school and they do not have written tests or answer keys in their program. A complete curriculum for a year can cost over $1000 dollars. It is one of the most expensive programs out there.

They use outside sources for Science and Math, Saxon, Singapore, Apologia (see review below). Saxon is a good program and we recommend it. Singapore seems to be similar in using the Incremental approach. Neither of these are Christian, but Sonlight has teachers’ guides that may include that. Apologia seems to be  a Christian, education and Missions-minded organization, but they don’t say what they believe on their website. Nothing at all about it. And it should be noted that when companies offer curriculum they have not written they should at least be well-versed in the subject areas to be able to understand how the curriculum works. There is a section on Sonlight’s website stating that they have tried all the Science experiments and modified teachers’ guides to explain any misleading statements or unexpected outcomes. This is not the same as knowing Science and understanding the material  in the texts.

Many homeschooling parents said at first they tried to follow the program completely, but began to pick and choose parts, dropped back a level in some areas, or got reading books from the library instead of buying from Sonlight.  Most said they wanted to get the written catalog to know what books were needed so they could find them from other sources instead of paying for new/full price copies from Sonlight.

Calvert Schools

Calvert has K-8 curriculum only. It has both a physical school in Baltimore, MD, and other schools throughout the country which use their materials. Homeschoolers can teach the materials themselves, buying individual subjects. Calvert promotes a complete grade level package, however. Calvert allows all parents to call or contact them online to ask questions and get specific help.

This level starts at about $850 per year and varies somewhat according to grade level for the complete curriculum. Individual courses are $30 to $40. A second level with an advisory teacher assigned to you includes phone, online chat, and email communication with a Calvert teacher and periodic tests they grade, plus the teacher’s reports of the student’s progress and suggestions if improvement is needed. This level also provides transcripts on request. They also have two levels of instruction, a faster pace covering more material and a slower pace covering less material. (this second option is not available in the complete online school). Books and teacher guides must be returned at the end of the year.

Calvert advertises itself as being non-sectarian and provide no Bible curriculum. Homeschooling parents say it is very secular, presents some evolutionary concepts, “even in math,” and while it provides very complete structure, lesson planning, and makes the task easier for a very busy parent situation (one person who commented was working, going to school, and teaching her child), some insisted on a more Christian emphasis in History and Science. Complete grade programs range from $850 to $1250 for the “Classic” and “Classic” with an advisory teacher and periodic graded tests. They also sell “enrichment” and “school spirit” materials. The full online course was new in 2010, included videos and online communication and forum access, grading and progress assessment, plus optional “clubs” for photography, Science and gifted. Prices for this version exceed $2500 per year, varying by grade level.

Covenant Home Curriculum

This was developed by a Presbyterian Minister. He states that it follows Reformed Theology and that it is based on Classic literature and traditional Classical Education. He specifically states that he limits the use of Classical Literature (Greek) because of its ungodly worldview. The curriculum includes English Grammar and Composition materials which they have created and correlated with Classic literature selections. The publisher states that his materials guide users toward godly, Christian worldviews. He gives multiple choices of texts that can be used for Bible, Science and Math courses. Most curricula do not. Among his recommendations are Saxon for Math and Bob Jones University Press for Science. He also includes Latin for language study. Users say it is very structured. Most users liked the structure, goals, and Christian emphasis. One user said a learning-disabled student who began using it three years before graduation and was able to overcome serious reading and math deficiencies to the point of being accepted for college. Many people appreciated the “patient and thorough” telephone, message board and e-mail support CHC gives to its customers. Prices vary greatly, anywhere from $550 and up for lower grades to $850 for upper grades. These could be higher depending on your choices for textbooks.


Filed under Bible Teaching, Current Issues, Politics, Education, Writing, Reviewing, Publishing, and about Blogging

Principles of Teaching P.E.

Any form of organized sports will require outlays of time and money. Many communities have youth sports leagues but may require lots of time including fundraising obligations. Sports considered individualized (as opposed to group sports) are sometimes more flexible in scheduling, with lower outlays for time, money and equipment, and less chance of causing offense based on belief. Bowling, golf, tennis, swimming, archery, track and field, weightlifting, and aerobics may be some options to consider.

Most states require some form of Physical Education. Even if homeschoolers choose not to participate in organized or individual sports, the requirement must be satisfied. Generally something in the way of health is also required. Do not neglect this requirement or you may endanger your whole homeschool program. This is one way in which homeschooling groups can be helpful, by providing other students with whom to do activities, opportunities for documentation of socialization by photos, and chances to share equipment not otherwise available. or simply document church activities like hikes, bowling, or picnics that include volleyball, swimming, or other activities that are done as a group.

Community centers may have sports equipment, fields or courts students can use. If none of these options are available, parents may want to get a video exercise program or ideas on plans to follow online or at the library. Bike riding, the amount of walking done on a paper route, pickup basketball with friends, and many informal activities can count as P.E.


Filed under Education

Principles for Teaching Arithmetic and Mathematics

There are only three possible systems to teach Arithmetic and Mathematics. First is to teach without any system. This is poor teaching. It is often disguised as loving, motivating and capturing a student’s interest. While these are admirable goals, much or even most of the subject material will be ignored while a very few things the student finds interesting will be emphasized. Students taught by this method, or rather by these methods, usually find math to be a great deal of fun. However, as a rule, they do very poorly on standardized tests.

Second is the traditional method which everyone is familiar with. It is often called the unit method. A unit with many chapters covers one subject thoroughly, then moves on to the next unit where a different subject is taught. The older textbooks had little or no review of previous units. The more modern textbooks have added more review, usually by increasing the number of problems at the end of each chapter. Following the 1989 Math Standards, this “spiral review” makes traditional math more like the incremental approach. Traditional methods usually produce traditional students. Some hate math, some love math, but most students just view math as something put up with.

Third is the incremental approach. In the United States this has been widely popularized by the Saxon system. Saxon is the system I taught in High School. The incremental system teaches one small concept each day, has just a few exercises on the material taught that day and uses most of the homework time for review problems. The incremental system is difficult to develop for a publisher. It is a great deal of work but produces students with phenomenal math skills. When rigidly followed, the Saxon system produces the highest standardized test scores, but leaves a huge number of students hating math.

The number of exercise problems in the Saxon system is enormous. The way I handled this as a teacher was to encourage my students to work the problems as fast as possible. I graded homework on a pass/fail system. They had to show their work to pass, but did not have to get the answer correct. At the beginning of class students exchanged homework, I gave out the correct answers and the other student grading the papers marked the number correct and number incorrect at the top of the paper. The homework was returned to its owner. Then anyone could ask questions about anything they did not understand. This rarely took more than ten minutes. Then I went over the new concept and students had the rest of the class period to work on the homework. Questions were acceptable at any time. Most students finished the next day’s homework in class. I graded tests on correct answers. If a student was confident that they had all of the answers correct, they only needed to record answers. I had several students like this. If they chose to show their work, I could give partial credit if an answer was wrong but at least part of the work was correct. Partial credit was subjective and not subject to review.

There are three major problems with the Saxon method. The first is cost, but used textbooks are readily available because the system has been in place for decades. Saxon textbooks for each grade level are usually more than $60 new. If you want the answers to the enormous number of problems, then you will also need a teacher’s edition. Saxon also makes slightly more expensive homeschooler packets where a student textbook is supplemented with a teacher packet. Second, the volume of work overwhelms slower students. Third is the lack of problem solving. This was another reason for my emphasis on speed. This gave me one day a week to set the textbook aside and give extra credit problems. This is a major problem for homeschooling parents since they have neither the time to develop word problems nor the financial resources to purchase additional materials, which are often quite expensive.

A possible solution is another incremental approach, the Singapore method. Written by the Singapore Ministry of Education, it was brought to the United States in 1998. Unlike Saxon, Singapore Math begins with problem solving. From the student’s perspective, it is the most interesting approach to math that I know. Also unlike Saxon there is no one book for the entire year. The individual books start at a little over nine dollars and go up to around thirty dollars. You will need several paperback books per year, so if you have several children who could reuse a hardback textbook, the overall cost is likely to be higher than Saxon. Singapore Math is known by a variety of titles worldwide and is translated into many languages.

Singapore Math denies that it is an incremental approach because the term “incremental approach” implies the heavy review of problems of the Saxon system. In fact, the “word problems” build on the previous previous “word problems.” Their system is the concrete >pictorial>abstract approach. It is impossible, however, to progress without understanding the previous lesson. Since massive drill is removed, students who transfer to this system from traditional or Saxon approaches often find they are learning more with less work. Parents who use Singapore Math, however, say the additional drill books in the program should be considered essential, not optional.

Vain Repetition in Math

Most people know something about building a house, even if they have never worked on one themselves. Very few of us, however, know anything about the actual methods used in homebuilding, unless we make our living in the construction trades. We are only interested in the cost, the length of time it takes, how much it inconveniences us and the final results. We do not care that hand tools were replaced by power tools, which were replaced by more efficient power tools. Yet a master builder still must understand and learn the basics of the building trades.

Education in Arithmetic and Mathematics is similar to the building trades. Cashiers who had to add and subtract all financial transactions in their heads are long gone. They were first replaced by adding machines, which were replaced by cash registers which did the adding, which were replaced by bar code scanners tied into a central data base with spreadsheet capacity. Though humans will never match the computational abilities of machines, these machines require human guidance. Without this human guidance, machines will never know what to do with their incredible computational power.

So how much and what kind of Arithmetic and Mathematics do our children need to learn? Unless you are Amish and intend to use hand tools your entire life, spending months or even years learning how to become a master craftsman with hand tools is a waste of time. Some of the Arithmetic and Mathematics skills being taught today take time away from learning other skills. When this happens, teaching Arithmetic and Mathematics is like teaching hand tools to a carpenter.

Though many homeschooling parents want a quality traditional education for their children, this often includes hours of memorization of mathematical functions which a calculator can do in less than a second. Since people do not always have a calculator and standardized tests require these skills, students still need to understand how to do basic arithmetic and mathematics without any type of aid.

The clearest example is the times tables. Every student needs to memorize these, probably up to 12×12. Every student will be faced with real life situations as well as standardized tests where basic multiplication skills without a calculator will be required. However, taking valuable time to drill over and over again until the student can write down these times tables in mere seconds is not only a waste of time, but teaches that math is pointless and boring. The end result will be a student who hates math. And the student who spent far less time memorizing the times tables can still get a perfect score on the test.


As a Christian School teacher, I had 11th grade students come to me, saying that they “could not get algebra.” Neither stupid nor rebellious, these students had flunked Saxon Algebra I twice and needed two years of HS math to graduate.

The problem is the way we teach Algebra. Often many elementary school students and preschoolers use Algebra without knowing it. Their introduction to Algebra is usually just fill in the blank, such as 3+_=5. What goes in the space? Though there is only one correct answer, the concept of a blank is a variable, which is Algebra. Add another blank and we now have more than one correct answer, such as _+_=5. Just using whole numbers, the first blank could be a 0, or a 1 or a 2, which would make the second blank a 5 or a 4 or a 3 (answers could be reversed). Many elementary school students who used the fill in the blank, or box or whatever have never heard of the word Algebra.

Ask a group of students if they know what money is. They will usually laugh. Without raising hands, ask if they have any money. If they do not, then ask if they know someone, such as their parents, who has money. Tell them to think about a specific amount of money. Then ask if they would like to buy something. It does not matter what the something is as long as it costs less than the amount of money they are thinking about. If they buy it, how much money will they have left?

I have never talked to anyone who did not completely understand this problem, unless the child was so young that he did not understand money. Many of these same students, even high school students, however, are completely unable to solve x-y=z. The money you have is a variable. If a group of students answers this question, then almost every student will name a different amount of money. What is purchased can be any price and the amount of money left over is a variable. It can be written (amount of money)-(purchase price)=(money left over). This is the same as (BeginMoney)-(Purchase)=(EndMoney) which is the same as BM-P=EM, which is the same as x-y=z. This is both Algebra and problem solving.

The money problem can become much more complicated and most students still handle the problem with little difficulty, even students who are completely unable to handle the simplest Algebra. Suppose your parents help you buy something because you do not have enough money and the item you purchase has several parts. The problem could be written this way: (MoneyYours+MoneyParents)-(ItemA+ItemB+ItemC)=NoMoney. It could also be written(a+b)-c+d+e)=f, so f+(c+d+e)=(a+b). All that means in this example is that the three items you want to purchase have the same value as the money you and your parents have. The answer is textbooks which show how Math is a part of our everyday lives.

“Mathematics is the language with which God has written the universe.” Galileo Galilei.


Filed under Education

Principles of Teaching Fine Arts and Foreign Languages

Historically, the Fine Arts included painting, sculpture, architecture, music and poetry, plus drama and dancing. Lesser arts include book printing, jewelry and clothing design, quilting and home decorating. Computer design, both commercial and artistic, have revolutionized print (or electronic) media, audio and visual productions. Musical creations can be produced without a single “real” instrument or voice, just a person with computer, keyboard and music software.

Fine Arts, being electives, may not be taught at all in homeschool. Coloring papers or paste and glitter craft projects don’t count. Real art instruction should include more. Children need to learn to draw. Drawing should include basic shapes, perspective, proportion. Teach primary and secondary colors, blending, use of charcoal, pastels, watercolor. Crayons and colored pencils are also a good media as long as children learn how to shade and blend colors.

Teach hand and machine sewing, knitting, crocheting, needlework if you can. Use fabric paints to put Scripture verses and biblical designs on clothing and wall decorations. Working the Scriptures into your projects reinforces memorization. In one church women had quilted banners with Scripture and Christian elements, which was a wonderful ministry opportunity.

We cover Music as a separate curriculum area but it is frequently related to Drama, Poetry and Speech. Memorize poems or play passages and perform them for family gatherings or homeschool groups. If there are several students production chores can be divided up. A sound effects person gets music clips, rice in a tin pan and pair of shoes, a deerspotter spotlight operator, a costume designer, and a set builder, as well as performers. These need not be difficult or complicated, and give an outlet to different talents and ability levels.

A computer opens up worlds of artistic expression and parents should realize the relative simplicity with which their child could create a digital portfolio of his schoolworks or a favorite subject, a slideshow or video clips, captions and titles, recorded narration, music background, and, by the way, a fine arts elective class. Almost every computer includes some type of movie making or slide show creations software with fun effects and a few music background choices.

Many Christians do not believe any kind of dance instruction is appropriate, but we do know homeschoolers who have had their children take ballet. Folk or Square dancing are often considered acceptable. We have seen a performance by a Christian who studied interpretative dance and used it in a church service with Christian music. The Bible does talk about Miriam and David dancing before the Lord. Dance instruction can be physical education and also training in the arts. Parents have to decide how to obey the Scriptures in this matter. Great caution must be exercised to avoid situations where other Christians would consider it wrong. Also, a teacher might introduce elements of dance clearly sensual or suggestive or music that is not appropriate for your child to be exposed to.

Foreign Language is required for almost all High School graduates. If you already speak a language other than English in the home that should not be your foreign language. It should be one the child is not familiar with. Portuguese is a good foundational language and permits easier learning of Spanish and Italian, and to a lesser extent French. It is spoken in a large geographic area of the world, Brazil, for example. Learning Portuguese might be excellent foreign mission field preparation.

Koine Greek and Latin are excellent choices but often ignored because they are not modern. They will give more benefit to an American remaining in America than an unused foreign language. Latin is the basis of many European languages and gives aid in learning vocabulary, spelling and Scientific and law-related subjects. Latin was the language of Scholarship in the Middle Ages in Europe and is still used a great deal in Science and Law. A student might benefit from a study of the Latin Vulgate translation of the Scriptures, a translation through which many have come to Christ. Koine Greek is the language of the New Testament and would aid in study of the Scriptures. Even Classical Greek can be useful in the study of History, Science and Literature. These two languages present difficulties in part because they have alphabets differing greatly from that of English.

Hebrew is also a good language, especially because it is an ancient but still living language. There are many study aids available. It is the language of most of the Old Testament Scriptures, but it is also a very difficult language, reading from right to left. The alphabet has no resemblance to ours, making it even more difficult.

Our daughter is Hard of Hearing, and we taught Sign Language as a language course. This opens many minstry opportunities, and our daughter went on to major in Special Education and is looking at international ministries to the Deaf.


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Principles of Teaching Handwriting

The illustration shows ancient forms of writing in the Middle East. It is taken from the Curriculum Introduction included with our Biblical Studies books.

A difficult subject made more difficult by computers. What should be handwritten and what should be typed? Some colleges and companies require a handwritten essay for admission/employment to ensure that it is not plagiarized and to make sure the applicant is capable of writing legibly by hand. The skill is still necessary. No matter how much fun it is, or how much easier it is, to write on the computer, the student needs to learn to write well by hand. The only real question is how to do it?

We recommend traditional handwriting drills used probably for centuries, emphasis on legibility, neatness and consistency. Rough drafts of every assignment should be written by hand, up through senior level in high school. Once again, the skill can be verified, and plagiarism is far less likely.

Handwriting will be more useful and more enjoyable if it is combined with interesting assignments. While beginning writers will need to practice correct pencil and pen holding and formation of individual letters, do all you can to make the activity less dull with entertaining or colorful illustrations they can identify, word games, and perhaps interesting backgrounds for their writing papers. Simple stickers or correlated craft projects, different media in which to practice (chalk slates, wax tablets, clay, sewing cards) , even cutting letters out of paper and gluing them onto cards can help reinforce correct shapes and neatness.)

Older students can correlate handwriting with poetry or essay assignments, emphasizing making the words look attractive on the paper with illustrations and different colors or textures of papers. You might even want them to learn calligraphy or handwriting for mechanical drafting. Though these skills have largely been replaced by computer design programs, they still teach discipline, neatness and beauty in handwriting that can carry over into life.

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Principles of Teaching Literature and English Skills

English Skills must include Grammar, Composition, Spelling, and Vocabulary. I am an English teacher who hates Grammar, at least the way it is usually taught. Rather than drill on sentence diagramming and parts of speech in isolated sentences, I taught Grammar from Tom Sawyer. The student finds parts of speech in realistic speech, regional, standard and non-standard dialects, and many other grammatical and ungrammatical principles that represent real life situations. Our students learned Composition from Alice in Wonderland, a collection that introduces students to social and political commentary essays in a way second to none. Spelling and Vocabulary came courtesy of Around the World in Eighty Days, a work rich in travel words, technology terms, and especially context clues to help a student learn to read for meaning without a dictionary always at his elbow.

We also included Literary Criticism. We made use of Bullfinch’s Mythology for comparison studies between mythologies and the truth of the Scriptures to examine and understand their similarities and differences. We taught figurative language (special uses of words and phrases in Literature, like metaphors and similes). These English study techniques have important applications in studying the Scriptures, in the instances where secularists will claim that the Scriptures had their origin in more ancient writings. The flawed echoes of Greek, Roman and Norse myths don’t uphold the standard of truth, morality or consistency that the Scriptures present.

Sometimes critics claim the “plain literal sense” interpretation doesn’t fit a Scripture passage. For example, when Revelation 1:16 says Jesus had a sharp, two-edged sword coming out of his mouth, we should say, “Aha! That’s a figure of speech, a metaphor. The Bible uses the same figure, but as a simile, in Hebrews 4:12!”  The Scripture frequently explains its figurative language, and saying there is figurative language does not make an argument for the Scriptures containing errors or not being inspired and authoritative.

In a Christian school, I taught The Merchant of Venice, and we put on a one-hour performance version for which I cut down the play, preserving Shakespeare’s wording and the essence of his story, just cutting extras and combining some characters. A homeschool group could produce a “Shakespeare in an Hour” play, using the exercise of cutting as part of the study. The Faerie Queene Part One is an epic poem, a forgotten treasure of English lit. It is the Christian allegory that inspired Pilgrim’s Progress, C.S. Lewis and Tolkien in their writings. We have a video summary and study of the literary devices used in it on YouTube of this great poem.

The main focus of our literature studies included analysis of various kinds of works, ancient to modern, TV shows, movies, even Video Games and Graphic Novels, with an eye to learning what is good and bad in literature. Do not make the mistake of thinking that you have to put in modern stuff to be relevant or to keep students interested. Use modern stuff because it is relevant to show your students what is good and bad in what they see every day. Our children got tired of analyzing every movie or TV show we watched, but they couldn’t miss the message that nothing is just entertainment for a Christian.

Here’s just one example: Make a study of what makes a true hero. Start back with the superheroes Nimrod, Gilgamesh, and Hercules. Check out Joseph, David, Daniel. Take a look at Hector versus Achilles in the Trojan War. Jump forward to Beowulf, Galahad, Siegfried. Go all around the world, all through the ages, and learn what characteristics God values in a hero as opposed to what man values. Then compare them to modern heroes, the characters John Wayne plays, crimefighters in comic books and movies, ordinary people thrust into extraordinary circumstances and how they respond.

Have students read a lot, and have them write a lot. Millions of works are available free on sites like Gutenberg.org. You will find collections of short stories, poems, speeches, biographies and religious writings. Have students read a little of everything, as long as you have a good idea of what it is and that it’s not seriously harmful to read. Don’t think they have to read great long things to be literate. The example project above can be done by reading relatively short excerpts. I had a college English teacher who used to say, in her southern drawl, “I am appalled by what some people have not read!” Well, there’s a lot I haven’t read that “English people” are supposed to have read.

I “Go with my gut” (usually the Holy Spirit’s leading, I hope and pray) when it comes to reading. I haven’t read Clockwork Orange, or Catcher In the Rye, or Lord of the Flies, for example. I’ve educated myself about them, but that’s all that’s needed. I’ve read nothing but excerpts by Cervantes, Dumas, Hugo. I have trouble reading very long works. (I have read Bleak House, by Charles Dickens, which is really long, and really worth it.) Some authors of longer works have short stories and I’ve read them. Tolstoy is an example. School situations don’t really allow for reading very long works anyway. Keep things moving and encourage the students to read longer stuff on their own time.

Writing for a student assignment should be an exercise in self-editing, and figuring out what’s important and unimportant, what’s good and bad in his own writing and in what he’s read, morally and structurally. Can he tell that writers like Dickens got paid by the word? (Yes, he did, whatever people claim. He wrote serials, had to have a cliffhanger of sorts at the end of ever magazine issue, and had to justify what he was getting paid by filling the space allotted. He also loved words and didn’t edit himself for length much.) Have you considered that the translators of the KJV wanted variety in the vocabulary at least as much as they wanted accuracy? (This doesn’t mean the KJV is inaccurate. It just means that it’s a literary translation, striving to elevate the beauty of the Scriptures and the English tongue. Consider doing a study of how many times a different English word was used to translate the same Greek word in the New Testament.)


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Principles of History Teaching

History is the opposite of Science.  History curriculum is very common. The question is, are History curricula teaching significance knowledge? The average high school graduate knows very little non-European and non-American history. An abundance of high-quality history books exist.  The real issue is, what is essential to be taught? What do your children need to learn? What is significant?

The average High School requires US History and the history of your state. Nothing more. Students usually aren’t even taught US history. They are taught diversity, pop culture and to hate slavery. Decades ago, History was combined with Geography, producing Social Studies. For the last fifty years the emphasis has been on the social with very little study. As Christians we need a semester, if not an entire year, of understanding the US constitution and the Constitution of the state in which you live.

The easiest way to teach World History is a good solid integration of History with the Bible. Who is Nebuchadnezzar? Who are the Babylonians and Chaldeans, the Aramaeans, Hittites, Philistines? What is Ur?

Our History will integrate Physics with ancient literature showing the beginnings of history with the Creation of the World. We need to emphasize the way people think and research to show how to determine what is historically factual. There is very little disagreement or controversy about historical facts from the time of Christ

to the present. As we go back in time from the 1st century AD there are more disagreements and questions. This is why High School and junior high texts stay away from these areas. Unless a parent is a historian, it is difficult to know whether “facts” presented in a textbook are true. What is the most significant thing? Parent must be familiar enough with the Word of God to evaluate statements in history books and see if they are in conflict with the principles in God’s Word.


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Principles of Science Teaching

There are only two ways to teach Science: to teach it as a unified subject or divide it into categories. Unified sounds good but can be overwhelming to students. Subatomic particles like electrons don’t divide themselves into disciplines according to how they behave. In Physics we study electrons in different ways from observing how they behave in Organic Chemistry as electrons generating electrical impulses. By the time they have traveled down nerves and crossed synapses and caused our muscles to move they have gone over into the study of Biology. In fact, a degree in electrical engineering is known as an EEE (electrical and electronics engineer) because electricity and electronics operate so differently on a large and a small scale.

To keep from overwhelming students on high school level and below the sciences are generally divided into different subject areas. In Jr High or Middle School they are simply taught as Physical Sciences and Life Sciences. In High School the subjects are usually broken down into Earth Science, Biology, Chemistry, and Physics. Interrelationships are rarely explored in detail because there is no time.

The question often asked about science is, how do you make these subjects Christian? In Life Science, you can emphasize the fact that God created all life, and it did not develop by evolution. We can also study God’s requirements for treating all life, animal, plant, and human. In the hard sciences (those that are testable in a laboratory setting), the Bible speaks just as clearly.  “By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the Word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible” (Heb 11:3 NASB).

The spiritual created the material. The supernatural can intervene in and change the material world. Job got boils from head to foot from no physical cause. Jesus walked on water and healed people born blind and lame. Elijah was taken up to heaven in a fiery chariot.

The material universe is finite, not infinite. Though God is in control, we are responsible as mangers. God will hold us accountable for the way we manage the material world. “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth” (Genesis 1:26)

The world is relatively young, less than 10,000 years old. It is going to be destroyed by act of God’s judgment because of man’s rebellion. Man cannot destroy the earth.The Bible demands that we have wisdom and skill in handling material possessions but we should not spend all our time efforts and energy developing these things. They are secondary to worshiping God. The material world is not to become our god. We should not become obsessed with seeking material possessions or how to manipulate the material world. How we handle science will determine the quality of our life here on earth. We are limited in what it can do to the material world and it is finite and temporary.

Science is constantly changing, more than any other field. Whatever curriculum a homeschooling family chooses it must be a modern, comprehensive textbook acknowledging the principles God has set forth.

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The Importance of Keeping Records and Cutting Curriculum Costs


Before beginning homeschooling, the teacher must realize that he or she is the recordkeeper for each student. As in all government and private schools, there are three types of records. The first is every aspect of a student’s work. In Pennsylvania, homeschooling parents must turn in a portfolio of student’s work every year to an evaluator, who must put his or her evaluation of the student’s progress in writing. Though different states use different terms, this portfolio includes examples of academic work, tests, quizzes, showing progress in learning throughout the year. It also has a brief description of outside activities the student has participated in, including pictures. It will be a thick notebook by the end of the year.

A traditional teacher uses this type of material to evaluate progress throughout the year. These periodic evaluations are called grades and these grades are recorded in a gradebook. Though homeschoolers rarely use gradebooks, relying instead on a pass/fail system, they need to be able to show to an outside evaluator how the student is progressing in each subject area.

The third type of record is a transcript. Up to this point, there could be a great deal of variety in recordkeeping. A transcript, however, needs to include certain things. A certified transcript from a traditional school will be recorded on a paper with a watermark and have a seal from the institution. Homeschool transcripts to colleges and institutions looking to hire a graduate should at least be notarized. The information included in a traditional school transcript will include the courses taken, when and who taught the course, the grade, teacher comments (usually in code), date of graduation, honors and special recommendations, (such as proficiency in foreign languages). Certified transcripts from traditional schools are rarely more than two pages.

A homeschool transcript is required by law to show the same information. Since homeschoolers are rarely graded, this will end up with more than two pages. Without a grade, you must still show what subjects were taken, when, and how well your student did in each subject.

We strongly recommend that you grade your students and keep records of those grades. Whether you choose to record grades on a spreadsheet, a piece of paper or only use written evaluations, backup, backup, backup. Keep a record on your computer, on at least two backups, keep a paper copy and backup offsite. Your student could possibly need a transcript after you have died from old age. Not only do you need to backup your transcripts, you need to notify people where these backups are. These transcripts are so important that their location should be included in your will.

Homeschooling for less than $100 per year per Student

This figure of less than $100 per year is for electronic curriculum. Nothing else is included in this figure. Any extracurricular activities such as music, field trips or sports are extra. Any device to read the e-books is also extra. An Amazon Kindle is the least expensive option at this time at $139, with a stripped down model for $79.

We write questions to go with existing inexpensive e-books, usually $1-5, and write our own books. The total cost for the least expensive option is around $25.

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E-Book versus Print Book Curriculum

Before America was even founded, Benjamin Franklin published the same 3 categories of print material we still have to today. First there is what I call “public domain.” This is stuff that has been around for awhile: The Bible, Plato’s Republic, Isaac Newton’s books on Physics and Mathematics, etc. Next is stuff we have to have, even if do not want it: Textbooks, dictionaries, repair manuals, warning labels, directions, instructions, etc. Though these might be expensive books, the last category is the real money category, stuff we want to read. While a few people might enjoy technical journals, most people read fiction or the news. Since Poor Richard’s Almanac, these were printed in vast quantities that made them highly profitable.

After centuries of enormous success, it is no secret that traditional book publishers are going out of business. While there are many reasons, such as poor marketing strategies, the major reason is competition from e-books. The year 2011 witnessed the sale of e-books surpassing the sale of print books at Amazon. There are many reasons for this, but three stand out. First is availability. A book we had not heard of was highly recommended to my wife and I and within a matter of minutes we had downloaded it onto our Kindle and begun to read it. This is possible to anyone anywhere in the world that has access to the Internet.

Second is security. We have lost or destroyed some very expensive books in our lifetimes. Kindle books are backed up by Amazon. Though it is not an automatic process, it is possible to recover books lost on a damaged Kindle, as we have just learned when our Kindle screen went to Kindle Heaven. Also, many authors find the security of a Kindle superior to the security of paper books. Every year thousands of printed books are stolen. While electronic theft is possible, every purchase is tracked and is traceable. At this time theft of printed books is more common that the theft of Kindle books.

Third is cost. Cost will eventually drive print books into a niche market. They will never disappear completely, but a generation raised on electronic books will fail to understand the mass appeal of print.

Cost is the reason we are developing an e-book curriculum. At this time, a high quality homeschool curriculum in print is at least $750, often over $1000 per student per year. For those who are unable or unwilling to afford these costs, an entire ebook curriculum is much less, about 10% not counting the counting the cost of the ebook reader.

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What Did You Do Wrong?

You sacrificed to homeschool your children or put them in a Christian school. Yet they still turned their back on you and God. Today they are nothing more than another statistic, no different from any other sinner without Christ. There are almost unlimited people, Christian workers, articles and general advice to tell you what you did wrong.

According to the Word of God, we must carefully examine and confess every known sin. “Purposes are established by counsel.” Proverbs 28:18 The Word of God commands us to seek out Godly counsel to know if we are doing what is right. We will never be perfect but are we “training up a child in the way he should go”? If, after diligently searching the Scriptures, seeking Godly counsel and praying for the direction of God’s Holy Spirit, we find nothing wrong, then there is one other possibility which is rarely, if ever, mentioned. The child is responsible for his own choices.

“The fathers shall not be put to death for the sins of the sons, neither shall the sons be put to death for the fathers. Every man shall be put to death for his own sin.” Deuteronomy 24:16 Our Secular Humanist culture despises the concepts of sin and personal responsibility. So God gives us an extended example at the end of Judges, chapters 19-21. I have heard and read thousand upon thousands of sermons and only one man has preached on this passage. A very brief overview: A Levite had a wife who left him. He went back to her father’s house, retrieved her and stopped for the night in a town of Benjamin. An old man invited them to stay the night with him. The men of the town surrounded the house. The old man gave the Levite’s wife to these men and they raped her all night. When the Levite awoke in the morning, she was dead. The Levite cut her in twelve pieces and sent the pieces “to all the borders of Israel.” All Israel gathered together and asked for these men to put them to death. The tribe of Benjamin refused to hand them over and the rest of the tribes attacked Benjamin. At first Benjamin killed thousands of his brothers, but Benjamin was eventually destroyed so that only 600 men were left.

The important point is in Judges 28:22 “and Phinehas the son of Eleazer, the son of Aaron stood before (the ark of the covenant of God) in those days.” Phinehas killed a leader of Israel with a Midianite woman during sexual intercourse while Moses was still alive before they crossed the Jordan River.

Joshua was at least 80 years old when they crossed the Jordan River. The campaigns took somewhere between ten and twenty years. Then Joshua retired to his possession. Eleazar was the high priest of the older men under Joshua, and Phinehas the high priest of the younger men under Joshua. Phinehas became high priest when Eleazar’s generation was gathered to his people.

“And the people served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great works of the LORD, that he did for Israel.” Judges 2:7

“And also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers: and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the LORD, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel.” Judges 2:10

Though the historical account is placed at the end of the book of Judges, these Benjamites were “another generation after them, which know not the LORD.” These wicked atrocities occurred just a few decades after the death of Joshua.

Yet nowhere in the Word of God is any fault laid at the feet of Joshua. There is no direct blame placed on Eleazar’s entire generation for the actions of these men. The Benjamites were completely responsible for their own actions.

As parents, we can do everything right, yet have children who openly rebel against the Word of the LORD. The prophet Samuel’s children corrupted the Word of the LORD and took bribes. Noah was righteous in the eyes of the LORD, yet every wicked sinner on earth today is a child of Noah. Though we need to constantly examine our hearts for sin, there is no reason to blame ourselves for every sin our children choose, to the point where we destroy our own ministries with undeserved guilt.


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