I have been lucky enough to be a part of the Ambleside community for many years as the spouse of a teacher/board member. Cayce would often come home and share about the philosophy and the happenings in her classroom. In 2014, our involvement in the community changed as we became first-time parents and now this year changed again as we became parents of an Ambleside student. One of the tools of education that has always impressed me is the power of an idea.
Our family has a long history of bike riding. Thad took to riding a balance bike early and by 4 was riding a regular bicycle. Riding early has led to many life lessons. As Thad began learning how to pick up speed on his bike I would ask him “Who is in charge of steering Thad’s bike?” He would become so engrossed in his pace that he would forget all about the importance of steering. A few run-ins with bushes and one fence later, he began to pick up on the idea. The idea of being in charge of one’s own course struck me and made me think in what other ways might we see this play out. When Thad was struggling to do what he ought, the analogy clicked. I asked, “who is in charge of steering what Thad does?” Slowly, I could see him making the connection– “I am!” he declared.
The steering idea is just one example I have seen in our family life of an idea feeding the mind. Sonja Shafer, a Charlotte Mason homeschooler and writer asserts that, “a vitalizing idea can spark your own further related ideas. An idea you latch onto almost takes on a life of its own, connecting with other ideas in your mind, growing in scope, exploring related possibilities, and even spawning other ideas. As Charlotte said: ‘An idea fitly put is taken in without effort, and, once in, ideas behave like living creatures—they feed, grow, and multiply’ (Vol. 2)”. In the years to come, I anticipate many more bike rides with Thad and many more ideas shared that will feed, grow, and multiply.