The atmosphere of a school plays a critical role in the life of any student. Children are extremely perceptive and understand intuitively what adults around them find important, and they adjust themselves accordingly. Atmosphere refers to more than how a classroom is decorated, though it includes that. It is the spirit, the culture in which the student is immersed. So, for example, if the culture of a school is focused on entertainment, impressing others, winning, legalism, “just getting by”, or “doing what we want”, students pick up on the many clues and nuances and find ways of adapting within the prevailing environment. At Ambleside, therefore, we devote significant time and effort toward creating the ongoing spiritual, social and academic atmosphere of our school.
At Ambleside, our focus is radically different from that of most schools. We concentrate on learning, for learning brings intellectual growth and life to the student, and we find that such learning brings delight. The Ambleside atmosphere is natural, calm, and very relational. While it is rigorous, it is also supportive. Students listen attentively to one another and give and receive respect. Rather than trying to impress or win, Ambleside students learn the satisfaction that comes from mastering a new concept or gaining a new understanding. We believe the growth that God intends from learning is inhibited when children feel shame because they are slower or less advanced than their classmates, or, worse, when children are trapped in pride because they may be more advanced or faster.
At Ambleside, there is no burden of competing for grades, points or prizes, or the approval of teachers. Ambleside students are free to learn for the pleasure of learning within a classroom atmosphere that is both inspiring and challenging. They observe, explore, discover, and respond as they encounter real life, great works, and great ideas. Ambleside students experience the guiding hands of teachers who understand the importance of being both loving and firm. Appropriately, natural consequences of choices are experienced along the continuum between challenge and triumph.
Some people observe that Ambleside is more like a home school environment than a typical school, in that the children are valued as people, are expected to do what is right because it is right, and are allowed to struggle at times. Our aim is not only to empower our students to thrive at school, but to thrive in life.
Above all, the Ambleside atmosphere is built upon the foundation of Jesus and all that He is. We strive to model submission to His authority, to link knowing with doing, and place the highest priority on ensuring that our students understand that there is no greater goal in life than to know and love and follow Christ.