– By James Bartlett
There is a new book on the home school market that helps Christian parents teach mathematics to their children from a Christian viewpoint. The book is titled Revealing Arithmetic: Math Concepts from a Biblical Worldview and was written by Katherine Loop, a home school graduate from Virginia.
Miss Loop has done a superb job in presenting important Biblical truths that our children need to know in the context of basic math, which will help both parents and children acknowledge God further in daily conversations. She has elaborated on the Scriptures that show that God is the author of mathematics; that math works because of God’s faithfulness, power, and providence; and that a Christian view of math differs drastically from a naturalistic or humanistic view of math.
I have been studying and thinking about how to acknowledge God in math and science for many years, and this is the first book I have seen that is easy to read with very useful and practical assignments for the younger students, pre-K to about grade 6.
The way parents could use this book with young children is to read the chapter themselves first, talk about the concepts presented with their children, and then pick one or more of the ideas the author presents to explore the connections between a math concept, the Bible, history, philosophy, and God’s creation. Each chapter concludes with many simple teaching suggestions, a list of objectives, examples, and specific points to communicate.
For example, in the chapter on decimals, Miss Loop uses grocery shopping to show practical uses of decimals, relates the meaning of the word decimal, and points out that God has given us the ability to describe quantities using decimals by creating us in His image. She relates the account of King Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 4) to show that he could not (and we cannot) even think or function apart from God’s enabling. She then covers the history of the use of decimals, the practical how-to details, and the multiplication and division of decimals, and explains that rules work because they describe what happens in the real-life details created by God, leaving us with the understanding that we can worship and praise God while using decimals. One of the ideas elaborated upon in this chapter is to look at various occupations that use the decimal notation.
The trouble with teaching and learning math just as the rest of the world is that we train ourselves and our children not to acknowledge God in the details of life, and thereby miss the corresponding blessings. The truth is that math is not a philosophically neutral subject but is entirely dependent on a Christian viewpoint of absolute truth, whether we acknowledge this openly or not.
One area that Miss Loop addressed, which I had not considered much, was regarding math methods. She explained that when one views a specific math method as the only way to solve a given math problem, it subtly causes the math method to appear as an absolute truth in itself instead of what it really is–one of many methods of describing God’s absolutes. This can teach the putting of trust in numbers and man instead of the putting of trust in God.
Rather than rushing through the symbolic manipulations of mathematics to keep up with the Joneses or the standardized achievement tests, our children, families, and culture will bring more glory to God as we learn to acknowledge Him in more of the details of His sovereignty. This book, titled Revealing Arithmetic: Math Concepts from a Biblical Worldview, is a great book toward this end. This book is available to buy online at www.christianperspective.net.
Proverbs 3:6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
James Bartlett is the executive director of the North Dakota Home School Association and Biblical Concourse of Home Universities. He and his wife, Lynn, homeschool four boys on a small farm in the Turtle Mountains. They can be reached at 701-263-4574. Lynn blogs about their family activities at NDHomekeeper.blogspot.com.