Perhaps your family, like mine, recently discovered the first season of The Chosen, an eight-episode, made-for-television historical drama about the life of Jesus. Relying on the Gospels as a guide, the creators of the series endeavor to help us see Christ “through the eyes of those who knew him.” Episode 3 gives a sense of how Jesus related to the children of his day. The writers use a campsite setting outside of Capernaum to allow us to see how they imagined Jesus interacting with a group of local children. It seemed believable, as I recognized the genuine warmth and peace, laughter and joy that Jesus must have emanated whenever he had the opportunity to be with children.
While recognizing the fictional story line the filmmakers used for the avenue of their message, I at the same time respect the evident attempt to stay true to what scripture tells us about Jesus and his relationships. Actual accounts in the Gospels are rather brief when it comes to Jesus’s words about children, but when he did speak, as always, it was powerful. Probably familiar to most of us are Matthew’s account of Jesus’s words in chapters 18 and 19.
At that time the disciples came to Jesus saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
“Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.”
Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” And he laid his hands on them and went away. (ESV)
So how does this guide our work and interactions at home and in school settings? It wasn’t until about a decade and a half ago, that I came to the realization of how specifically Jesus’s words could and should guide us in educating children. In Charlotte Mason’s Home Education, the first volume of her 6-volume series, she says this,
It may surprise parents who have not given much attention to the subject to discover also a code of education in the Gospels, expressly laid down by Christ. It is summed up in three commandments, and all three have a negative character, as if the chief thing required of grown-up people is that they should do no sort of injury to the children: Take heed that ye OFFEND not – DESPISE not – HINDER not – one of these little ones. (emphasis hers)
Charlotte Mason goes on to examine these commands, what she calls “the three educational laws of the New Testament”, in order to “settle with ourselves what we may not do, and must do.” Further she says, “we offend them when we do by them that which we ought not to have done; we despise them, when we leave undone those things which, for their sakes, we ought to have done,” or when we “undervalue or have a low opinion (of them).”And later in regards to hindering, “it is to overlook and make light of his natural relationship with Almighty God.” This is undoubtedly the foundation of all that she goes on to develop throughout her extensive writings. It was her life’s work to build a philosophy of education on this foundation that informs “whatever is included in training up a child in the way he should go.” In other words everything that happens to a child during his waking hours!
That is also what drew me, and I believe draws most of you, to an Ambleside education for your children. Jesus knew children are persons. His words regarding children should be taken with the utmost seriousness whether in a home or school setting. They are in a sense His “philosophy of education.” Ambleside Schools continue to filter all ideas and decisions regarding methodology, coursework, relationships, and atmosphere through His essential, unequivocal, and unwavering commands. They inform all that we do— and what we don’t do—because He knows children best.
(Check out Home Education Part 1, sections I-V on the ASI website)