Ambleside teachers welcome students into an atmosphere of beauty and inspiration. Classroom furniture is the work of craftsmen. Natural light filters into the classroom. Children observe birds feeding outside classroom windows. Walls display old masters’ works, wise sayings, maps of faraway places, and nature objects the class gathered.
At Ambleside students encounter the past and present, the awe and wonder of science and mathematics, the frailty and nobility of humankind, the ebb and flow of life, and the relationship between authority and obedience. And—free from the burden of competing for ranks, grades, or prizes—they learn for the joy of learning. They do not strive after the approval of the teacher or the reward of a good mark, smiley face, or gold star. Nor does the child seek in their schooling to impress, or to win; it is not a competition. Rather, they learn because it is good to know and a delight to the mind and soul. A child who masters a mathematics concept should feel the joy that comes from understanding, the satisfaction of a job well done. They should not feel shame because they were slower than their classmates, or, even worse, pride because they were fastest.
Ambleside students experience the guiding hand of a teacher who is both loving and firm. Teachers allow students to experience the natural consequences of their actions, and students experience the delight and the struggle of everyday life.
Ambleside teachers cultivate an atmosphere that nurtures:
- joy and belonging.
- relationships that include, rather than exclude.
- culture that transcends fads.
- pursuit of, and love for, knowledge.
- wonder, as students relate to knowledge, others, and God.
- delight in work and in the struggle to grow.
- effort and enjoyment of effort’s fruit.
- rigor, challenge, and an opportunity to meet mind to mind.
- variety in work, conversation, and focus.