At Ambleside, we believe that real education is much more than the assimilation of facts, figures and skills. It is rather a lifelong process of one’s mind feeding on ideas expressed through God’s creation, great works of art, music, science and other disciplines, and in “living books.”

“The children must enjoy the book. The ideas it holds must each make that sudden, delightful impact upon their minds, must cause that intellectual stir, which mark the inception of an idea.

Children’s lessons should provide material for their mental growth, should exercise the several powers of their minds, should furnish them with fruitful ideas, and should afford them knowledge, really valuable for its own sake, accurate, and interesting, of the kind that the child may recall as a man with profit and pleasure.”  Charlotte Mason

At Ambleside, we believe that real education is much more than the assimilation of facts, figures and skills.  It is rather a lifelong process of one’s mind feeding on ideas expressed through God’s creation, great works of art, music, science and other disciplines, and in “living books.” True learning takes place when students come mind to mind with the best minds of history, and ultimately with the mind of God.

We encourage students to freely think for themselves: to wonder, to explore, to discover, to ask why and how, to gain the courage of their informed convictions.  “There is no education but self-education…our business is to give him mind-stuff, and both quality and quantity are essential.”  Ambleside teachers nurture this invaluable process using the Ambleside curriculum which provides a steady diet of inspiring ideas for our students to feed upon daily.

Living ideas are contrasted against the lifeless, “predigested”, hard facts contained in most modern textbooks. “Look at any publisher’s list of school books and you shall find that the books recommended are carefully desiccated, drained of the least suspicion of an idea, reduced to the driest statements of fact.”

An idea, on the other hand, is “a live thing of the mind, …it ’strikes’, ‘siezes,’ ‘catches hold of,’ ‘impresses’ us and at last, if it be big enough, ‘possesses’ us… When we hear ‘I have an idea’; we rise to such an opening as a trout to a well-chosen fly.”

With a “living” book, children will show delight, and take an interest, because they will experience the pleasure of receiving “those sparks of truth from the author.” Furthermore, they will be able to tell back clearly what they have read, and will remember it far beyond the next exam.

There is, of course a singular, preeminent collection of true, living ideas and stories.  The Bible informs and inspires at the deepest level. Our students see in holy Scripture the reflection of their Creator, their Savior and their comforting Holy Spirit who satisfies the thirst of their souls.  We believe that as a living book, the Bible is uniquely qualified to minister to our most heartfelt needs and bring the amazing power and tenderness of Jesus to them.  Above all, students at Ambleside breathe an atmosphere sweetened by His mercy, love and grace as we allow God to envelope all of us in His story and His Living Ideas.

Living Ideas

“But always it is the book, the knowledge, the clay, the bird or blossom, he thinks of, not his own place or his own progress.”