When I first started writing curriculum for HomeschoolingTorah, I wanted to offer curriculum that was affordable for families but also filled with delightful lessons for their children.
For instance, many companies ask you to spend hundreds of dollars for living books for your shelves.
Living books are usually written by one person who has a passion for the subject and writes in conversational or narrative style. The books pull you into the subject and involve your emotions, so it’s easy to remember the events and facts. Living books make the subject “come alive.” (Source)
I wanted that, too — but living books can cost families over $800 per year for some curriculum!
We have chosen instead to use the living Internet. 🙂 (Yes, I coined that term myself.)
The Internet in His-Story
I actually think the Internet is part of YHVH’s plan for history. I know that sounds a bit dramatic, but I do actually see evidence for it in Scripture. You see, back in the 15th century, the invention of the printing press made it possible for Bibles to be placed into the hands of the common people. The result was that the gospel reached “many peoples, nations, languages and kings” (Revelation 10:11).
We are living in an amazing period in history, for just as the printing press revolutionized our world, the Internet is doing it again!
Torah author Norman Willis shares how he thinks this is prophesied in Scripture:
[We have seen] how the lost ten tribes of Israel were sent into the dispersion for disobedience. But how long were they to be gone? When were they to return? Several of the prophecies give us answers to these questions, and more.
Ezekiel was told to lie on his left side for 390 days. Each day was symbolic of a year that Ephraim was to remain in the dispersion (outside the land).
Yehezqel (Ezekiel) 4:4-5
4 “Lie also on your left side, and lay the iniquity of the house of Israel upon it. According to the number of the days that you lie on it, you shall bear their iniquity.
5 For I have laid on you the years of their iniquity, according to the number of the days: three hundred and ninety days; so you shall bear the iniquity of the house of Israel [Ephraim].”
If the lost tribes would repent after the 390 years, they would come home; but Leviticus tells us that those who do not repent at the end of being punished will have their time of punishment multiplied sevenfold.
“’But if you do not obey Me, and do not observe all these commandments, and if you despise My statutes, or if your soul abhors My judgments, so that you do not perform all My commandments, but break My covenant, I also will do this to you: I will even appoint terror over you, wasting disease and fever which shall consume the eyes and cause sorrow of heart. And you shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it. I will set My face against you, and you shall be defeated by your enemies. Those who hate you shall reign over you, and you shall flee when no one pursues you. ‘And after all this, if you [still] do not obey Me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins’” (Leviticus 26:14-18, NKJV).
The Assyrians did not carry the Ephraimites out of the land all at once. Rather, they began invading around 734 BCE, and then the campaigns went on for many years. If we use 734 as a start point, and add 390 years to that, we arrive at 344 BCE. Clearly, Ephraim did not repent then, so Yahweh multiplied her punishment seven times, for a total of 2,730 years.
If Ephraim’s punishment began in 734 BCE, then 2,730 years later brings us to 1996 CE. If this calculation is correct, then the Ephraimite nation would start to be restored about then; and that is what happened. While the Ephraimite movement had started some decades earlier, it began to flourish and grow around 1996 CE, as Yahweh began to turn back Ephraim’s punishment.
When I first read that, I got goosebumps. Do you know what year our family got our first computer with an AOL account that we used to access the Internet? Late 1995! Indeed, without the Internet, we would have never questioned things such as Sabbath, unclean foods, holidays, and more. The growth of the Torah Movement over the past two decades has been exponential, to put it mildly.
So as I see it, the primary way that the gospel has been spread has been (1) by word of mouth, (2) by printed books, and (3) by the Internet.
Most homeschoolers understand the importance of talking to their students each day. Many value the importance of wonderful books, especially the Bible. But how many value the Internet in their efforts?
Pros and Cons of Internet Use
While I think that the Internet is very important, there are pros and cons we have to consider:
- The Internet is constantly being updated with the newest research and ideas.
- The Internet lets us access people who are experts in their fields and talented at presenting information in a way we can easily learn.
- The Internet can be interactive.
- Videos and websites can make subjects “come alive” even more than living books can!
- The Internet is constantly being updated. This makes it tough for small companies like HomeschoolingTorah to keep up with dead links and pages that no longer exist.
- The Internet gives us access to people who have quickly made a website without checking primary sources or caring about accuracy.
- The Internet can load slowly, especially for families who live in rural areas, or its monthly access can get expensive.
- Videos and websites can be difficult to see together, as a family, if the family has only one screen or device.
- If you find a dead link. I wish it weren’t true, but you’ll occasionally find links to websites that no longer exist. Sometimes this happens because a website has had a nice face lift. 🙂 Always try searching for the website, but if you still can’t find it, feel free to contact us.
To Search for a Website:
Let’s pretend you are trying to access a website about Einstein in our Algebra 1 curriculum. The link we’ve given you is http://www.aip.org/history/einstein/inbrief.htm. Sadly, when you click that link, you find out it no longer exists.
- You could try visiting the AIP website to search for “Einstein.” Many websites do have a search feature on their home page.
- You could search Google by typing “site:” in front of the name of the website, plus the search term you’re looking for (which is “Einstein” in this example).
Congratulations! You have now found the missing webpage at https://www.aip.org/history/exhibits/einstein/.
- To use the Internet when you have unreliable service. If you’re depending on dial-up or 4G to watch YouTubes, you’ll probably get frustrated very quickly. Thankfully, YouTube is one company that is starting offer ways to watch their videos offline.
Note: It appears that this service might only be available by subscription to YouTube Red. If you know of a better solution, please let us know in the comments below.
- To View Websites and Videos from Your TV Screen. One of the best ways to use the Internet with several students at once, or even your whole family, is to turn your TV screen into a computer monitor. There are a variety of ways to do this, and anyone at a BestBuy or RadioShack could help you do this. Our family has chosen to use the Google ChromeCast device, which plugs into the side of our TV. Other streaming devices include a Roku device and an Amazon Firestick.
As you can see, some of these things cost money. Maybe my original goal of keeping homeschooling affordable isn’t as easy as I once thought! Instead of purchasing living books, I’m purchasing tech equipment and service subscriptions. However, when I add it up, these things can still be cheaper than purchasing books.
I suppose it comes down to personality and our unique family situations. Books are good, and the Internet can be, too, as long as I see each of these things as tools that our Father gives us to help us equip and train our children.