I have been fortunate to be a part of the Ambleside community for over 13 years. I have worked as a classroom teacher, board member, mother of a student, and instructional team leader. When I was asked to write a post many ideas swirled in my mind. I continue to be in awe of the three tenets of Charlotte Mason’s education (atmosphere, discipline, and life), her 20 educational principles, and the vast curriculum we engage in classrooms. The possibilities were endless.
This past week, I was home with my boys for an extended amount of time because of the sniffles. A break in the monotony of our week was a trip to the library. My 6-year-old, Thad, checked out a stack of Franklin (the turtle) books as he often does. During this reading of his treasured books, a new idea struck me. Franklin’s first school project is to create a display of what he likes best about his neighborhood. Franklin can’t decide what to draw for his project. His classmates chose various places around town –the library, fire station, and the park. Although Franklin likes those places, after considering all the options, he finally decides that it’s the relationships, rather than the places, that make his neighborhood so special.
The same is true of me. The relationships within the Ambleside community are what drew me in, and it continues to hold me here. In the past week, I saw multiple tangible examples of the relationships being the connecting force for learning and growth to happen…an email reply from a former student turned peer and staff; a smile and hug from the newest members of our kindergarten community; the way the students, staff, and fellow parents care for my younger son, Bert, when he is on campus; the sharing of joyous and sorrowful family news.
Charlotte Mason asserted that
“we all have the same instincts and appetites, we are prepared to allow, but that the principles of action which govern all men everywhere are primarily the same… that the desire of society (belonging), which you may see in two babies presented to one another and all agog with glee and friendliness, is the cause, alike, of village communities amongst savage tribes and of the philosophical meeting of the learned.”
Being in relationships with safe and loving people is what brings out the value of our pedagogy. Franklin was right as he chose to value relationships. I am eager to see how the relationships formed this year by students, staff and families will advance this sacred work.