An Ambleside Education
Education in all classes follows the clearly defined guiding Charlotte Mason Fundamentals and teachers are carefully trained in the Ambleside Method of education and accountable for applying it consistently. By maintaining an optimal learning atmosphere, training in the necessary habits, and engaging with inspirational ideas, Ambleside schools give their students the opportunity to become mature learners and excellent workers. Gaining knowledge and producing quality work become their own reward, thus negating the need for entertainment and artificial enticement.
The Ambleside Curriculum is composed of carefully chosen literary texts and objects of study. In all disciplines, beginning in the very early grades, Ambleside students are exposed to some of the best books, the greatest works of art, the most beautiful music, and the majesty of creation. A typical day at Ambleside is both rigorous and inspiring, involving the work of the mind and the work of the hand, requiring individual effort and group cooperation. And, all is done under the watchful eye of a caring teacher who is as concerned with the forming of the heart as the informing of the mind.
Our main pedagogical method is written or oral narration. Narration is the act of retelling what has been heard or read. At Ambleside, students narrate in every subject area every day. Studies have shown that this process of “retelling” is the best way for students of any age to absorb material. By narrating orally, pictorially, or in writing, students internalize ideas and information they have read, heard, or experienced. Narration requires students to remember, summarize, order, and attend to detail. Students are carefully guided into higher levels of response such as application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation. Narration demands the full attention of the student. It is also a form of oral composition, which lays the groundwork for writing and public speaking.
At Ambleside, each class has a primary teacher who spends the vast majority of her time with her class and class size is kept small. This allows teachers and students to know each other well and to cultivate the kind of relationships necessary for optimal learning. While student work is assessed throughout the semester, based on oral responses and work product; special assessments in the form of essay examinations are given near the end of each term. After the completion of each term, parents receive a “Report of Progress” detailing subjects studied, student strengths, student weaknesses and individualized comments. In addition, parents meet with their child’s teacher to discuss this “Report of Progress” and other areas specific to their child’s needs twice a year.
While most Ambleside schools are not affiliated with a particular church and Ambleside families are not required to share a particular faith commitment, all Ambleside students are exposed daily to the person and principles of Jesus Christ. They begin each day with an assembly that includes prayer and the singing of a hymn, attend a weekly chapel service, and study the Old and New Testaments as part of the curriculum. All Ambleside faculty and staff share a commitment to believe, follow and obey Jesus.
Not only do Ambleside students become masters of art and ideas, learning to paint and to sing, to read with understanding and to write with clarity, to appreciate great literature, to wonder at the revealed mysteries of number and of science, to share in the glory and ignominy of human history; but they grow in healthy ways of relating to God, self, others, and work. In cultivating the habits proper to learning, Ambleside students master all areas of study to the fullness of their God-given potential. In cultivating the habits proper to mature living, Ambleside students master the skills necessary to live full and satisfying lives, rich in devotion to God, service to others, and continuing personal growth.
In the course of an Ambleside education students are on their way to becoming:
- Actively engaged in understanding and expressing substantial ideas
- Consistent in their habits of learning from paying attention and reflecting to thinking and perfect execution,
- Proficient in reading rich text, writing essays, and speaking publicly
- Eager for great works of literature, science, music, and art
- Proficient in conversing and reading in at least one foreign language
- Mature in their ways of relating with themselves and dealing with challenges
- Mature in their ways of relating to and caring for others, forgiving and supporting one another.
- Engaged in a life of Christian devotion to God and developing a discerning and open spirit.