The mind is a spiritual organism in need of nourishment and a child's mind needs and craves ideas in the same way that his body craves food. The job of the school, too often neglected these days, is to put children in contact with as many high quality ideas as we can.
We call them living ideas in order to contrast them with the cold, dead facts of most modern school books. Such ideas have a life of their own and are capable of acting upon us. They capture our imagination, grab hold of us, inspire, impress, or even possess us. In short, ideas behave in many ways like living entities because they are in fact, the fruit of other minds.
Living ideas, while occasionally original, are most often received from someone else. The job of the teacher, then, is to not be the sole conduit through which all of a student's information must pass. Who could possibly be up to that task? Rather, the teacher should serve as philosopher, guide and friend in a journey through the world of ideas. A teacher need not master every idea a child could need, she need only have the ability to find them. And we find them in living books. "Living" because they were written by an author who desired that his work be read and enjoyed, because they open life to us and draw us in, because they are infused with a spirit, a purpose, and a point of view.
Perhaps no book is more lively than the Bible. This book, filled with the most life-giving ideas a child could possess, forms a core part of the Ambleside education. Children are brought to the scriptures daily and allowed to drink deeply. The voice of the Holy Spirit is not drowned out by the talky-talk of a moralizing teacher. Instead, the teacher stays out of the way and lets the children "come unto Him."