Educational Precepts of ATI
a family-centered approach
1. Viewing the whole family as an educational team.
The most powerful and long-lasting influences in a child’s life are the relationships of his own family. If they are loving and positive, the child will have a rich foundation for successful relationships outside the family. If they are negative and hostile, the continuing hurts will damage every other future relationship, including marriage, family, and employment.
2. Turning life into a “classroom.”
Quality education is not based on how big a school is, but on how small the student-teacher ratio is. The best education takes place through one-to-one mentoring. This ratio is recognized in technical and fine arts fields where students are acclaimed more by whom they studied under than by what school they attended. Daily home responsibilities and family situations provide ideal learning opportunities for alert parents. True learning takes place when information changes behavior and when the students can explain the information to others.
3. Developing personality and leadership before socialization.
Children who are grouped together in age-segregated classrooms tend to become followers who are easily influenced by the wrong behavior of peers. The resulting peer dependence causes low self-esteem, fear of rejection, and negative attitudes toward the future. On the other hand, a son or daughter who is strongly related to adult teachers tends to be a leader of peers in later years.
4. Preparing children for adulthood.
By the age of twelve, most children have answered three important questions: (a) “What type of friends will I choose when I become a teenager?”, (b) “How will I respond to the authority of my parents and others?”, and (c) “Will I be a ‘giver’ or a ‘taker’ with my life work?” By introducing children to positive role models and the biographies of great men and women, they can be guided to find the right answers to these questions.
5. Recognizing children as adults at the age of twelve.
Adolescence has been accepted as a period between childhood and adulthood during which teenagers have maximum freedom and minimum responsibility. This concept is actually contributing to the delinquency of minors, especially when those on this age level are grouped together. During this time of growth, their sense of awkwardness, insecurity, and fear of rejection will often motivate them to do whatever it takes to be accepted by their peers. Successful civilizations have honored the passage of children to adulthood at age twelve. At this age, children want to be treated as young adults. The Apostle Paul declared, “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things” (I Corinthians 13:11). Notice that no adolescent stage is mentioned.
6. Training children to be the educators of their children.
The educational ideal is to span multiple generations. The father and mother endeavor to so teach their children in Godliness that the children will in turn be taught to train their own children. The goal is not merely to educate one’s own children, but to enable one’s children to become the educators of the next generation. As the older children grasp the opportunity to encourage, motivate, and instruct their younger siblings, they can gain the vision of training up their own children in Godliness. This allows the mother the freedom she needs to take care of other family and personal responsibilities, while providing excellent training on parenthood for the older children.
7. Explaining principles rather than rules.
People, especially teenagers, tend to react to rules. However, when underlying principles are understood, these same people tend to design their own rules in order not to violate the principle. Just as there are physical laws in the world of nature, so there are spiritual laws that determine relationships in life. The ATI program is based on seven universal, non-optional Biblical principles. America and its law system were founded on these principles. These are taught in the Basic Life Principles Seminar, which is a prerequisite for participation in the ATI program.
8. Building academics around Scripture.
If Biblical truth is added to a secular curriculum, man’s presuppositions will always be at the center of learning. However, if Scripture is at the center of the curriculum, then all other knowledge can be wisely evaluated and related to it. The core of the ATI curriculum is a 3,000-page amplification of the Sermon on the Mount, in the form of 54 Wisdom Booklets. Each booklet relates language, history, science, law, math, and medicine to the foundational teaching of Christ in the Sermon on the Mount.
9. Adding virtue (character) to faith.
Teaching knowledge before virtue leads to arrogance. The Biblical instruction is to add to your faith virtue, and to your virtue, knowledge. Virtue is Biblically-based character. The Greek word for “express image” in Hebrews 1:3 (“the express image of his person”) is charakter. All true character is a personification of the Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, the more we know about character, the more we understand about Christ. A focus on forty-nine character qualities is woven throughout the ATI curriculum.
10. Learning to think by analogies.
Organizing knowledge around subjects such as math, history, and science actually creates mental barriers to practical application of information. Thomas Edison was one of the greatest inventors in history, holding over one thousand patents, including the electric light bulb. He had only a few months of formal education, and in later years, he warned about the danger of the college structure of learning. He thought by analogies and was able to easily apply information from one field to another. There are eighteen types of analogies that not only help students become articulate thinkers, but also provide skill in rightly dividing the truth of Scripture.
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