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The Key to Motivating Teens
Learning the true meaning of knowledge requires a wise and understanding heart that develops when students allow wisdom to teach them through life's experiences.

Think back to your school years as a child or a teen. What lessons were most efficiently learned—the ones you gleaned from a textbook in response to a scheduled assignment, or the ones where you were desperate to find answers to a problem you needed to solve at work, at home, at church, or in your personal life? If you're like most people, you'll have to admit that most of the assignments were important, but the lessons you learned in the context of your need to know offered skills with "staying power."

… the ability to understand from God's perspective—comes only by immersion in God's Word.

We are living in a time when the technology around us makes learning "in context of need" ever more possible. Today's students have access to electronic tools which literally put the world at the touch of a remote control. Learning at home is becoming more practical by the minute.

It is also becoming more crucial. Parental responsibility to train young people in discernment is heightened by the cyberspace revolution.

Discernment is a function of wisdom, and wisdom—the ability to understand from God's perspective—comes only by immersion in God's Word.

What does the world expect us to know?

Most conventional requirements for high school graduation include some of the following guidelines:

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English: Possibilities include literary genres (general survey), literature and philosophy. Elective areas may add journalism, creative writing, or literary criticism. Grammar and composition are generally studied in relation to the literary component.

Mathematics: Possibilities include consumer math, algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and calculus.

Science: Possibilities include biology, general science, physics, and chemistry. Advanced studies may include anatomy, microbiology, and botany, zoology, astronomy or biochemistry.

History:Possibilities include Canadian and U.S. history, world history and geography, government and economics.

Physical education: Physical education usually earns credit along with classroom work in health, hygiene, driver education and career orientation.

Fine arts: Performance courses allow for classroom time spent in practice to perfect skills rather than in direct instruction. Classes could include music performance, art lessons, music and/or art appreciation, drama, public speaking, theatre, cinema, calligraphy, design (both advertising or interior design applications), drafting, architecture, or even a survey of units that acquaint students with many different fields.

Electives: Possibilities include French as well as foreign language study, business education (typing, shorthand, general office skills, bookkeeping, basic accounting), computer science, vocational courses (various shops and apprenticeships), and home economics (nutrition and food preparation, sewing and tailoring, home decorating, and home management).

Christian schools usually add a Bible requirement potentially comprising one year of study for each term in attendance.

What does God want us to know?

When exploring God's requirements for what our young people learn, it is important to establish a Scriptural definition of knowledge. 2 Peter 1:5-8 provides a clear description for an educational sequence which will honour God: " … Add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ."

Reading is the most accessible and powerful means we have to allow students the consistent company of great individuals.

Knowledge, then, is explored information within the boundaries of faith and character development. There are some things God commands His children not to know. He told Adam and Eve that they were not to know evil (see Genesis 2:17), and the Apostle Paul affirmed this instruction to the Roman Christians when he wrote, "I would have you wise unto that which is good and simple concerning evil" (Romans 16:19b).

Learning the true meaning of knowledge requires a wise and understanding heart that is developed when students allow wisdom to teach them through life's experiences. The book of Proverbs makes this a strong appeal. Reasoning skills are strengthened as analogies are used to identify relationships. Many spiritual truths are developed through analogy, and Jesus often used this as a means of teaching His disciples.

Each subject matter area that comes under consideration in a Christian home school should be examined in light of Scriptural directives. The following list is broader than a mere high school credential; it seeks to define the "end product" of an educational program as Scripture would affirm the goals. These are mastery areas young people should accomplish sometime during their preparation for adulthood.

Regarding communication skills, God's Word commands that "we minister grace to the hearers … " with our words (see Ephesians 4:29). We are reminded as well that we will "Give account for every idle word … " (Matthew 12:36), and that our words must be precise in sending forth a clear signal. Thus, we know that students should master grammar and syntax, the ability to express themselves with the written and spoken word, to be persuasive and instructive or encouraging as situations demand. Because technology enhances our ability to produce the written word, every student should master computer/typewriter keyboard skills.

Where does the realm of literature fit in? Familiarity with great writings will help a student internalize excellent, descriptive means of expressing himself. Many people ask, What makes a classic? A work that has stood the test of time and is true to biblical themes in dealing accurately with life's challenges is an excellent threshold point for evaluation. He who walks with great men will become wise. Reading is the most accessible and powerful means we have to allow students the consistent company of great individuals.

Scripture explicitly commands that we know history: "For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we … might have hope" (Romans 15:4). We gain hope or confidence as we learn how God operates His universe and understand His ways in dealing with mankind. Because history is really "His Story," it should begin with the Scriptures—the Old Testament.

Israel's history offers a clear demonstration of when people experience blessing and when they experience cursing. "Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord" (Psalm 13:12), the Psalmist reminds us. Against this backdrop, study the rise and fall of each civilization according to the pattern of Israel's relationship with Jehovah. Then examine our history in light of that same pattern. Such an approach gives context and understanding (developing wisdom) to the study and removes the student from the dreadful futility of memorizing meaningless facts.

The next logical place to move a Scripturally-oriented educational credential is church history. How is God dealing with man during this present age? Begin with Acts, move through the Epistles (examining, of course, the times and places where these churches were located), and culminate the study by relating the seven churches referenced in Revelation to the major periods in church history. Current events should be correlated to Scripture, and the development of missions must be explored in this context (forming a meaningful basis for the study of geography). The final phase of understanding plumbs the depths of prophecy.

The prophet Isaiah described the three-branch structure of government long before Christ was born: "For the Lord is our Judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is our King; He will save us" (Isaiah 33:22). As you study government, examine its precepts, principles, and practice in relation to biblical principles or foundational references.

That "He is before all things … by Him all things consist" (Colossians 1:17), forms the rationale and protective framework for the study of science. Honour the limitations of science by formulating a precise definition. Then create a study from hypothesis to evaluation.

Understand how thinking with analogies enhances creativity in inventions. Skills in taxonomy will promote understanding of the orderliness of God's creation and build a foundation for an effective apologetic refuting evolutionary thinking.

The primary use of mathematics, which is corroborated in Scripture, is in accurate business dealings. "A false balance is an abomination to the Lord, but a just weight is His delight" (Proverbs 11:1). Character development and reputation (a "good name") is inextricably tied to a person's application of proper stewardship. In conventional curriculum, the scientific expressions of higher mathematics often preclude consumer and business math. The development of the "higher" skills is by no means wrong; in fact, it is an expression of an exact science. But responsibility in a man's business and home must not be ignored to make room for trigonometry and calculus.

The standard for what to study and what to produce is defined in Philippians 4:8 …

God promised to make His people "the head and not the tail … " (Deuteronomy 28:13) if they would honour His principles in matters of borrowing, lending, and investing. Young people must learn how the "borrower" becomes "servant to the lender" (Proverbs 22:7), and cause/effect relationships regarding debt and prosperity need to be carefully analyzed.

Art and music are the language of the spirit. God gave mankind these means of glorifying His name. The Psalmist describes a heart that is right with God through a musical analogy: "He hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God; many shall see it and fear and shall trust in the Lord" (Psalm 40:3).

The standard for what to study and what to produce is defined in Philippians 4:8: "Whatsoever things are true … honest … just … pure … lovely … of good report; If there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." We honour God when the expressions of our hearts and our being are consistent with His character. Therefore, any study of the arts must be limited to those means and expressions which draw the believer closer to becoming Christ-like and demonstrate God's character to a world that doesn't know Him. Young people must develop their gifts so that they are not merely consumers of the arts, but producers of excellence.

Finally, don't forget to teach your young ladies how to be "keepers at home" (see Titus 2:4-5 and Proverbs 31) and equip your young men to support their own households (see 1 Timothy 5:8 and Proverbs 24:27).

Honouring your son's or daughter's individual bent and following God's direction will round out the picture, allowing you to craft your program to God's design for your family.

The 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language by Noah Webster earmarks four necessary components in every person's education:

Education comprehends all that series of instruction and discipline which is intended to enlighten the understanding, correct the temper, and form the manners and habits of youth, and fit them for usefulness in their future stations.

Such an education demands more than the earning of a list of credits; it demands mature understanding of God's precepts and their impact on every subject.

Inge Cannon has served the home school movement for almost 25 years and is currently the executive director of Education PLUS, a publishing and teaching ministry dedicated to helping home-educating parents maximize the benefits of a tutorial lifestyle in their families. She is the author/seminar instructor of Transcript Boot Camp on DVD, a thorough four-hour presentation about high school planning and transcript documentation. Her TranscriptPro software, newly released in Version 3, gives the professional edge to every parent and is extremely easy to use. Details are available at and TEL: 864-609-5411.

Originally published in Education PLUS, and reprinted the OCHEC Newsletter, Summer 2006.




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