You’ve heard about the 3 Rs. So what is the fourth R?
Everyone has heard of the 3 Rs, but the 4 Rs are what the education of my children is based on. Considering that they’re the foundation of learning, has anyone else noticed that of the 3 Rs, writing and arithmetic do NOT, in fact, begin with an ‘R’? As someone not USA-born, I don’t recall hearing about the 3 Rs until I came here. When I did, I was surprised that people would call them that, but I guess it allows for alliteration and creativity.
All learning is based on the 4 Rs. Let’s go through them.
Reading. “If you can read, you can cook.” Those words spoken by my father are true of any subject you encounter. Learning to read opens worlds of information to the individual. Historically, people were kept from learning to read so that they would be gullible and easily led to wherever the person who could read saw fit to take them, a large cause of the Dark Ages. Reading is fundamental.
Writing. The ability to communicate is vital, and writing is the means to do so over long distances that last indefinitely. When Europeans settled this country, American Indians called writing “talking words” – the ability of markings on something (bark, paper, etc) to convey exactly what you mean to say. This too is fundamental, despite the fact that it doesn’t begin with the letter R.
Arithmetic. Math, or arithmetic, is used daily. During my husband’s year living in Peru, he saw the farmers get shortchanged by those who knew math because they didn’t, so they didn’t get the correct pay simply because they couldn’t add. Math is used in measuring (baking, cooking, time, distance, space, volume, etc.), science, carpentry, building, accounting (rather obviously), music, art. Pick your occupation or subject of study and you will find math in it.
This brings us to the 4th R. It is quite literally the answer to everything, by combining it with the use of the previous 3Rs. Research. Until your last day of life, you will have questions. Knowing how to find answers is vital. With the advent of the Internet, weeding through the information contained therein to find what is actually true, is almost more important than the foundation of research in the past, which was the need for at least 2 or 3 witnesses of the same thing to make it (possibly) truth. That foundation is still true today, and always will be.
Our unit studies include biographies which the children are required to write during their study. The book we are reading is used as one source. They need to read at least one other book before putting together their study, including all the resources in their bibliography as evidence and the place for a third party to find the answers they came up with. That need for two, three or more proofs of a comment is the most vital part of research, and is in accordance with the Biblical principle. For the younger children, I usually require only 2 books, but for the older ones, they need at least 3 used and mentioned in their bibliography.
The 4 Rs are foundational to every study. Reading, Writing, Arithmetic, and the Research that brings them together into one.