Tag Archives: teaching

Investigators of Salvation — post by Mary C. Findley

Crucifix on Stucco Wall
Even the prophets, who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours, carefully researched and investigated this salvation. They tried to find out what era or specific time the Spirit of the Messiah in them kept referring to when he predicted the sufferings of the Messiah and the glories that would follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you in regard to the things that have now been announced to you by those who brought you the good news through the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. These are things that even the angels desire to look into.
(1 Peter 1: 10-12 ISV)

This is an interesting version of events in the ISV translation. Here it is in the New American Standard Version

As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful searches and inquiries, seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things into which angels long to look.

Picture, then, the prophets in a slightly different way. We think of them as getting revelation straight from God – astounding visions, messages for kings, warnings to repent for everyone, and even angels to explain to them what it all meant. But God didn’t always tell them the whole story. Sometimes, as in the case of the promise of the Messiah, they had to do research to try to learn when He would come. Angels, these verses say, couldn’t even explain things to them, though it seems to have been a subject they were greatly interested in.

Consider, as modern-day Christians, the number of verses we have been told are prophesies of the Messiah. They begin all the way back in Genesis 3:15, which is called the Protoevangelium, or first mention of Christ’s future atonement.

“I’ll place hostility between you and the woman, between your offspring and her offspring. He’ll strike you on the head, and you’ll strike him on the heel.” (ISV)

“And I will put enmity between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel.” (NASB)

You can see Adam and Eve didn’t have much to go on there. Some people say that when Cain was born and Eve said, “I have gotten a man from the Lord”, she thought her firstborn son was the Messiah. They quickly learned they were wrong about that.

So, through the ages, God inspired His Word to include clues to the Messiah – His nature, His purpose, and also when and even where He would come into the world. By the time Herod inquired as to where the King of the Jews would be born, the scholars had an answer all ready – “In Bethlehem of Judea”. Everybody, however, seems to have been thrown off by the timing. They were not clear on when the Messiah would come. There was confusion about many aspects of His life. A majority of the Jewish leadership concluded Jesus did not fit their understanding of the prophesies.

Back to the Old Testament prophets, though. The passage says these men researched and investigated to try to pin down the facts about the Messiah and salvation that weren’t all clear in the Scriptures or the prophesies they uttered.

These men were not like the Jewish Synagogue and temple leadership at the time of Jesus. They were not selfish or trying to preserve their own power. We see big hints that they understood the sacrificial system was not the answer. “The blood of bulls and goats can never take away sin”. “All we like sheep have gone astray … The Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all … ”

The biggest thing that stands out to me about these verses, though, is the point that the prophets “carefully researched and investigated this salvation.” Even while understanding this: “It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you.” The prophets would never see the Messiah. They would not see the fulfillment of the things they tried to make clear. They were sacrificing for future generations. They did it for those who lived in Peter’s time, and also for us.

We have the same responsibility as these prophets. How so?. The Messiah has already come. The atonement has already taken place. The mystery the prophets of long ago were trying to solve is no longer a mystery. Jesus is the answer.

Then why are there so many people who still haven’t heard or understood “the things that have now been announced to you by those who brought you the good news through the Holy Spirit sent from heaven”? Peter is saying that there is still work for faithful men to do, which the Holy Spirit was sent to accomplish. Remember that the Holy Spirit came after the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. So it’s clear that we as believers are indwelt by the Holy Spirit in order to keep investigating the Scriptures. We have to make salvation clear to those who still haven’t heard or understood. We have it. We understand it. But investigators don’t keep knowledge to themselves. Now it’s time to serve others to see to it that they receive and understand.

Free image from PixelPerfectDigital.com

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Be Ready — Guest Post by Victoria Findley

Victoria Findley is a Special Education teacher. She is also our darling daughter.

“On whatever occasions persons met together, Christ was to be heard of, and seen in the midst of them. Our young people, when they met, were wont to spend the time in talking of the excellency and dying love of Jesus Christ, the glory of the way of salvation, the wonderful, free, and sovereign grace of God, His glorious work in the conversion of a soul, the truth and certainty of the great things of God’s word, the sweetness of the views of His perfections, etc -”  Jonathan Edwards.

Oh that we had such a heart and fire for God that was not just limited to church time or within Bible times, but that the passion is so great that anytime is a good enough time to worship Him openly and freely.

Today I was challenged by a student. His question was, “What is our purpose here on Earth?”

The teacher of the class said, “God made us to love others, to get along and to do good.” It sounds good but is it enough? Suddenly, I don’t know why, but both the teacher and the student looked straight at me. I asked, “What was the question?” They repeated it. The answer I gave came out of me but not from me:

“God created man to honor, glorify and worship Him with our whole hearts. Then to minister to others and bring them to Him. We are supposed to work together and remain loyal, but for God’s sake, not our own.” Maybe those weren’t the exact words, but my student and teacher stared, and she said something along the lines of “That’s the simplified version of what I said but we are in school not church, so go ahead and get finished with your paper.”

They resumed but my thoughts still lingered about what just passed. God gives the opportunities to witness. Take them and let Him handle the results. Don’t forget: “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:” 1 Peter 3:15

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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.

Algebra

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.

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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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