Have you ever wondered how the Duggar’s homeschool? You may have seen hints of it on the show “19 Kids and COunting”. Occasionally, you may hear the parents use phrases like “biblical world view” or discuss the importance of children learning self-control and reverence. This is all part of a method that they use called “Advanced Training Institute” (ATI) which is a popular homeschool program among very conservate Christians.

ATI curriculum in all subjects is focused on a biblical perspective. The teachings of Jesus Christ in the Sermon on the Mount is the foundation for all subjects including science, medicine, law, linguistics and all other topics. It teaches adherents to view all topics through a biblical perspective.

The homeschool teachings can be supplemented through ministry opportunities, seminars, conferences and training programs at ATI training centers throughout the world. Older siblings may assist younger siblings with assignments and learning, much as the Duggar girls have done on 19 Kids and Counting.

ATI was founded in 1984 by Bill Gothard, who is a minister well-known for his conservative teachings. He originally found the Institute for Basic Life Princinples (IBLP) which was established to resolve youth and family conflicts. The mission is to resolve conflict through biblical principles and by establishing a biblical world view. ATI and IBLP are closely related and many families who homeschool with ATI attend IBLP seminars and ministry programs.

One of the big focuses in ATI training are the “Wisdom Booklets” which focus on developing character and each of the Gothard-defined character qualities. These are too numerous to list, but include:

  • Truthfullness
  • Obedience
  • Virtue
  • Gratefulness
  • Faith
  • Contentment
  • Self-control
  • Reverence

Some critics point out that more emphasis is placed on these factors than on educational curriculum. Often, household chores are incorporated into the program and focus on the child’s obedience in completing household responsibilities. Some critics have even called ATI and it’s associated programs a cult. It’s closely associated with the Quiverfull movement, which encourages families to have as many children as possible. The curriculum endorses the view that the husband is the head of the home. If this is true, it certainly goes a long way towards explaining much of the Duggar family behavior, including the large family and Jim Bob’s position as ruler of the family.

Christa T. Palmer (265 Posts)

Christa T. Palmer is a mother of 2 small children who lives in Colorado. She worked in the corporate world for more than a decade, but she was laid off the day after returning from maternity leave. Since then, she has worked as a freelance writer.