The Word Study is a methodology used at American Heritage School that specifically incorporates the entire 4-R process of Research, Reason, Relate, and Record into a single process.
In a Word Study, children select or are given a word that is key to the subject being studied. Students then use Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary to look up, select and record the definition of the word. This is followed by an exploration of how the word has been used by the living prophets and in the scriptures. From the recorded definition and its usages, children reason a principle of truth based upon the definitions of the word and information obtained from the living prophets and the scriptures. Then they relate to the meaning of the word by recording their own thoughts, writing their own personal definitions, or relating to the meaning in some other way depending on the requirements of the particular Word Study and the teacher’s assignment.
Word Studies go beyond vocabulary work; they allow the child to explore the meanings of words and the variations of language. Most importantly, it is a tool of scriptural scholarship that places the child on the pathway of reflective thinking and deductive reasoning derived from the scriptures. It guides a child in logical thinking and just reasoning by enabling the child to reason from cause to effect, and from choices to consequences starting first with scriptural meanings of words. Word Studies allow children to learn, for themselves, the way in which God uses a word and the particular meaning that the word has to Him.
The Noah Webster 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language is particularly useful because its definitions reflect principles key to the Founding of America, incorporate meanings taken from scripture, and elucidate understanding of word meanings at the time of the Restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ to the earth.
Noah Webster understood the power of words, their definitions, and the need for precise word usage in communication to maintain a distinct national identity. Eager for Americans to be free from the bondage of old-world ideas which were being disseminated through our young nation’s educational system, Dr. Webster laid the foundation for a uniquely American education and the American usage of English words in his dictionary, which defined each word in light of its meanings and usage in the Bible and in the new Christian constitutional republic. Both his scholarship and productivity are without equal in America, earning him the title, “Father of American Christian Education and Scholarship.” He felt deeply that it is the divine Word that consecrates and inspires the mind and builds intellectual virtue. His scriptural knowledge and research are evidenced in his definitions; fully 70 percent of his definitions employ scripture to assist in gaining an understanding of the word. In addition, he researched every word through his studies of twenty-six original languages to provide the root meanings.
A formal word study should contain the following components:
Definition of the Word: The primary definition should be obtained from Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language, and the most applicable components of the definition should be selected for analysis. If appropriate, the definition from a modern dictionary could be included as a point of comparison and contrast.
Words of the Prophets and Other Wise Men and Women: When possible, include the words of living prophets and apostles. The number of quotations required should be determined by the instructor. A minimum of two quotations is recommended.
Words of the Scriptures: Encourage class members to seek scriptures from all the Standard Works. The number of scriptures required should be determined by the instructor. A minimum of two scriptures is recommended.
Personal Definition: The instructor should determine the best way to use the Personal Definition component of the Word Study to further the purposes of their subject matter and course content. This step captures the Reason, Relate, and Record portions of the 4-R method.