Fostering academic excellence and biblical virtue to equip students for lives as local and global Christian servants.

TPS Pedagogy

What is TPS’s approach to learning and teaching (pedagogy)?

  • We hope you ask this question of every course provider or school you consider.
  • We also hope you will find our explanations to be refreshingly plain-spoken, specific, and focused.
  • We invite you to ask us more questions after you review this information.

In the concise explanations below, we use the categories of “Elementary / Early Middle School” and “Upper Middle School / High School”.

  • These categories are not sharply divided. They are ends of a spectrum, where the process of moving along the spectrum is smoothly sloped or evenly stepped.
  • “Middle School” in TPS correlates to academic grade levels 7 and 8 rather than to a precise age of the student.

Purpose of Learning

Elementary / Early Middle School
  • In the earlier years, we emphasize delight in learning motivated by the wonder and beauty of God’s Creation.
  • We apply this to Language Arts (e.g., writing), Math, and all subjects with the belief that “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein…” (Ps 24:1).
Upper Middle School / High School
  • In the upper years, we emphasize self-discipline for study motivated by biblical mandate to be knowledgeable and capable caretakers of God’s Creation.
  • We apply this to all subjects as part of our view that each student should seek his or her full potential in every subject (2 Peter 1:5-7) (i.e., not just the ones he likes or finds easy).

Content of Learning

Elementary / Early Middle School
  • In the earlier years, we emphasize simple factual and descriptive information.
    • Writing is narrative and expository.
    • In math, we focus on numbers and arithmetic.
Upper Middle School / High School
  • In upper years, we emphasize conceptual and analytical understanding and application over rote information and memorized explanation.
    • The writing focus is analysis (point/counterpoint) and rhetoric (clarity, concision, persuasion).
    • The math focus is on conceptual analysis where the student must first inductively set up the problem from the information provided and then deductively solve it.

Process of Learning

Elementary / Early Middle School
  • In the earlier years, we encourage multi-sensory (audio, visual), rote (memory), and kinesthetic (manipulation) practice and repetition to build foundational knowledge and fundamental skills.
Upper Middle School / High School
  • In upper years, we emphasize a sequential progressive study-practice approach:
    1. Read and study the text or source.
    2. Participate in the live class lecture and discussion (or view recording).
    3. Work study questions, practice problems, labs or projects.
    4. Study for exam or prepare an analytical essay for evaluation.

Motivation for Learning

  • The student who struggles with his identity and worth will be afraid to fail and even afraid to try. School becomes a threat to mental health, and the solution often employed is to avoid, reduce, or quit the challenge by choosing simplified courses and curricula without substantive evaluation.
  • The student who gains identity and worth from high grades and perfect work lacks the inherent self-esteem to process critical feedback and work in areas of weakness. School becomes a performance obsession rather than a medium for healthy mental and spiritual development.
Godly Virtues
  • We consider that our identity and worth are derived from being created in God’s Image and redeemed by Jesus’s sacrifice, not from grades or standardized test scores.
  • We consider grades to be only measures of accomplishment of specific course objectives, not measurements of identity and worth.
  • We want our students to experience the freedom to do hard things and attempt big things without fear of failure or diminishment.
  • We also want our older students to learn to see all labor (including difficult schoolwork) and service as a form of worship (as in Genesis 1-3), so they will be prepared for a life of local and global Christian service.

How does TPS decide the content (scope and level) of each course?

  • We desire to:
    • Help every student work to his or her individual potential in each subject area.
    • Celebrate that individual accomplishment with each student uniquely (rather than comparatively).
  • We use measurable standards of learning for all levels of all subjects.
    • We start by defining the standards of learning for the highest level courses in a given subject (e.g., BC Calculus in Math).
      • These upper standards are derived from standards set by competitive colleges, U.S. school systems with measurable high achievement outcomes, the College Board, classic “benchmark” textbooks with extensive peer review and development over many years, professional societies, credentialing bodies, and other respected sources.
      • Our intent is that if a student completes a subject in TPS through the highest course level, he or she will be prepared for any academically competitive opportunity and never have to say “I was not prepared for this.” (We have a large body of feedback from over 25 years that students taking our top level courses are among the “most prepared” in their college and career context.)
    • Then we work downwards to define standards of learning for each level from grade 4 to the top level.
      • In defining standards for each level, we emphasize a thorough and complete curriculum for each level with even steps or a smooth slope between levels (i.e., horizontal and vertical coherency is a primary element of our standards).
      • At each level, we also emphasize measurability with objective criteria. This allows us to develop each course to measurable objectives, which we post forthrightly in the course catalog for you. It also allows us to continually evaluate our own accomplishment of teaching and evaluating to objective standards of learning.
    • It is not our intent that every student should reach the top level of every subject, but that at every level the student completes, he or she has a thorough traditional standards-based education for that level.

How does TPS choose curriculum for each course?

Please see our How TPS Chooses Textbooks and Curricula information.

How does TPS set Prerequisites for each course?

Please see our Prerequisites and Readiness Assessment information.