Wisdom vs. Natural Inclinations -Seeing and responding to life’s situations from God’s frame of reference (Proverbs 9:10) ~ Bill Gothard
Bill Gothard wasn’t a great student. He makes no effort to hide the fact that he flunked the first grade and barely passed the next eight grades. From 1st to 8th grade, he was a lackluster student. However, according to the legend, near the end of eighth grade, an older friend challenged him to read and memorize large portions of scripture. In doing this, Bill Gothard (claims to have) found the key to unlocking his intelligence. I’ll let his words speak for him.
“However, as he memorized and meditated on Scripture, Bill’s grades improved significantly—so much so that he graduated from high school a member of the National Honor Society. This direct correlation between his grades and consistency in memorizing and meditating on Scripture continued through college and graduate school.” – History of IBLP, Bill Gothard
At fifteen, Bill also noticed that some of his classmates weren’t paying attention to their instructors. This bothered him enough to meditate on their lack of attention. Through thought and meditation, Bill realized that these boys were making “drastic choices that would have drastic consequences” (source: a taped lecture from 1993). It was these experiences that led Bill Gotharrd to create the homeschooling program that we all know now as ATI/IBLP.
Before I get into how this worked in my childhood home, I would like to take a moment to ask a few questions (and answer them).
Q: Does Bill Gothard have children?
Q: Is Bill Gothard married?
Q: Had Bill Gothard spent a lot of time observing youth, prior to creating the homeschooling program?
A: Yes. However, the youth he observed were admittedly troubled inner-city, heathen youth with multiple problems and, often, criminal records.
Q: Does Bill Gothard have a degree in education from a credentialed school?
A: No. He has a BA in Biblical Studies and an MA in Christian Education from Wheaton College. Presently, it holds all the necessary credentials for providing degrees in education. In 1961, it did not. In fact, by the 50’s, it was known as the most neo-conservative, evangelical university in the northern United States.
The homeschooling program I was raised in was created by a childless bachelor who took his educational ideals from mentoring troubled teens and applied them to families with a one size fits all mentality.
I was very young when the decision was made to homeschool. As such, I can’t say that I know what my parents reasons were but I’m almost positive Mr. Gothard influence was key. We lived in an area with nice schools and my mom had been a teacher. Still, despite all of the stress heaped upon her, my mother was charged with homeschooling her children and she did it with as gracious a heart as she could muster. Since she had a background in teaching math, we were some of the best educated children in that discipline, in our cohort. She broke with the prescribed curriculum for math somewhere in the fourth grade and began teaching us her own.
ATI utilizes Wisdom Booklets. These books can be used to provide education for a wide age range of children at the same time because of the way they’re formatted. Every section is focused on a scripture from the Bible. Every child studies the same topic/scripture while the parent applies it to different disciplines (the law, medicine, language, etc.,.). To keep it “grade level”, you use different worksheets or reviews. But, yes, the question I get most often “Did you get the bankruptcy lecture?”, is answered with a resounding “Yessiree”. I probably got the lecture three times over the course of my homeschool education. The curriculum repeats itself every four years.
One problem I saw was that there was no room for individuality within the ATI curriculum. There’s no program designed for special needs children. Even though the lessons are so basic (and so academically unrigorous that I can’t imagine anyone “falling behind”), there’s no remediation options. If I missed something due to illness, it was just missed. If you didn’t understand something, there were no academic consequences since the Wisdom Booklets don’t build upon anything academic. It’s ironic, to me, that Mr. Gothard developed this program after watching kids zone out and fearing for the “consequences” of their inattention — there are no consequences, save what Gothard considers spiritual consequences or physical punishments — for not learning your ATI curriculum.
To be continued…in part 10.