Source: Operation Christmas Child 2015

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Art Spring is Ambleside’s main fundraiser.  It is held every year and is an evening event that celebrates the arts with music, fine food, and a display of professional and student art in a gallery setting.  Art Spring is an event that brings the local community together to celebrate the artistry of heart and hand with music.  Art Spring is an enchanted evening celebration of the arts held Friday, April 10, 2015, from 6 to 9 pm at the Cactus Hotel in downtown San Angelo.  The funds raised will go to support the school’s scholarship fund and operational needs so that all children may take part in this wonderful educational experience and not be precluded because of financial need.

ArtSpring_Birds_9463

Ambleside School reminds educator why he entered field in the first place

News article about Ambleside in the San Angelo Standard Times

The Meaning of Must

Dear Ambleside Family,                                                                            9-5-13

What a great start to a new school year.  I wanted to remind you about our parent meeting tonight at 7 p.m.  Please come and hear about all the wonderful things that will be going on this year and about important updates in our accreditation, enrollment, finances, etc.

In this third letter explaining the Ambleside/Charlotte Mason philosophy, I wanted to focus on what she says about the meaning of must.  The staff at Ambleside studied this in our in-services over the summer.  As we work together, school and parents, to “train a child in the way that they should go so they will not soon depart from it,” a common understanding of must is necessary.  Miss Mason states in “Concerning Children as Persons” from Parents Review,

If we ask ourselves, what is the most inalienable and sacred right of a person qua person? I suppose the answer is liberty.  Children are persons; ergo, children must have liberty.  Parents have suspected as much for a generation or two, and have been at pains not “to interfere” with their children; but our loose habits of thinking come in our way, and the very act of giving their freedom to children we impose fetters which will keep them enslaved all their lives.  That is because we confound liberty with license and don not perceive that the two cannon co-exist.  We all know that the anarchist, the man who claims to live without rule, to be a law unto himself, is in reality the slave to certain illogical formulae, which he holds binding upon him as laws of life and death.  In like manner, the mother does not always perceive that, when she gives her child leave to do things forbidden, to sit up half an hour beyond his bed-time, not to do geography or Latin because he hates that subject, to have a second or third helping because he likes the pudding, she is taking from the child the wide liberty of impersonal law and imposing upon him her own ordering, which is in the last resort, the child’s will.  It is he who is bending his mother as that proverbial twig is bent, and he is not at all deluded by the oracular “we’ll see,” with which the mother tries to cover her retreat.  The child who has learned that, by personal demands, he can get leave to do what he will, and have what he likes, whether he has learned that, by persistent demands, he can get leave to do what he will, and have what he likes, whether he do so by means of stormy outcries or by his bewitching, wheedling ways, becomes the most pitiable of all slaves to chance desires; he will live to say with the poet, “Me this uncharted freedom tires, I feel the weight of chance desires.”

Miss Mason writes much on the meaning of must in all her writings.  Our current society, much like society in the time of Miss Mason, seems caught up in the confusion between liberty and license.  We see it in the extension of adolescence in many young men and women well into their late twenties and mid-thirties; not taking on the responsibilities of adulthood, but being caught up in the license to do “what I want.”  Freedom of the individual becomes master over liberties in society, and desires then overrun duties.  In these cases, freedom becomes slavery to every whim and chance desire, and in our spiritual walk, we become slaves to sin and idols.

At Ambleside, it is our desire to teach the students the meaning of must.  We do not do this in a legalistic (lots of rules) or meritocratic (awards and punishment) way, but in a way that builds responsibility and joy in the accomplishment.  There is greater freedom in accomplishing what we ought to do than in doing what we want at the expense of what we must.  A greater sense of completion and well being (and liberty) is felt when our children learn that an internal state of normalcy can be achieved in a healthy relationship between joy (shared delight) and peace (shared quiet).  This is a learned skill, and one that we as a staff want to partner with you as parents to develop in your children.

In closing, I want to thank all of you for your continued encouragement, prayers and blessings.  They truly do make a difference to the staff here at Ambleside School of San Angelo.  Chris

Dear Ambleside Family,                                                                                                                8-2-13

In this second letter explaining the Ambleside/Charlotte Mason philosophy, I wanted to focus on what she says about motives for learning.  For if we understand the motives children have for learning, we can then build upon those motives in the methods in which we teach. Miss Mason states in A Philosophy of Education,

“He (the teacher) knows that children’s minds hunger at regular intervals, as do their bodies; they hunger for knowledge, not information, and that his (the teacher’s) own poor stock of knowledge is not enough, his own desultory talk has not substance enough; that his irrelevant remarks interrupt a child’s train of thought; that in a word, he is not sufficient for these things. (p.44)”

It would appear that Miss Mason is coming down pretty hard on teachers here.  But the contrary is actually true.  She very much recognizes the importance of the teacher in the classroom; not as the expert on every matter, but as a conduit through which the ideas of experts on every matter can be put before the student in texts, poetry, artwork, and music.  The teacher’s responsibility then becomes presenting and helping in connecting students to the ideas as they would connect to them, instead of being the expert in all parts of the curriculum and giving their personal information on the topic to the students.

“We do not need the testimony of their teachers that the work of the term has been joyous; the verve with which the children tell what they know proves the fact.  In our training college, the students (future teachers) are not taught how to stimulate attention, how to keep order, how to give marks, how to punish or even how to reward, how to manage a large class or a small school with different classes.  All these things come by nature in a school where the teachers know something of the capacities and requirements of children. (p.45)”

A child is motivated naturally to learn.  From birth, a child explores the world around them with a God breathed curiosity about the creation into which they have entered.  Think of the three-year-old asking, “But why…?” until we can hardly stand it.  This innate curiosity and imagination is not one we should stifle upon entering the schoolhouse by filling the mind with information that provides little nourishment for the brain.  If we allow, encourage, direct, and grow this gift with great ideas, knowledge is retained and builds the mind of the child into a strong organ – so many of you parents have shared testimony to this fact.

Charlotte Mason reminds us that just as in war every man has the capacity for feats beyond what may normally be consider his capability, that acts of bravery that defy reasonable explanation come from ordinary citizens, so too is every child capable of receiving, learning, and reveling in knowledge not deemed possible by our consideration.  When we place the good, true, and beautiful ideas in front of children with the idea that their capacities are greater than we can imagine we will not be disappointed.  When we expect more, we receive more.

I send you this letter not to brag about what the Ambleside Schools do for your children, but to encourage you to do the same in your homes.  To set the bar high in their learning, and not be surprised when they far exceed your expectations; they will.  Their motivation for learning comes from a hunger to know.  It is our desire to partner with you in bringing your children to the fullness of their potential as persons; mentally and spiritually.  We want to come alongside you in this endeavor; a partnership, if you will, providing continuity in the flow of ideas from school to home and back again.

In closing, I want to recommend another book I neglected to put on the last letter, When Children Love to Learn, by Elaine Cooper, Eve Anderson, Susan Schaeffer Macaulay, and Jack Beckman, and wish you all a great last month of summer with your children.                      Chris

Children are Born Persons

Dear Ambleside Family,                                                                                                                  7-24-13

As I have listened to many parents over the past year, it has come to my attention that there are many reasons why parents decide upon Ambleside as the school choice for their children.  Some are disgruntled with the public school system and the focus on high-stakes testing in the name of “accountability,” or bullying, or lack of care because of high numbers in the classroom, or some other factor, and are seeking any other alternative, others want their children in a place that places Christ in the center of their child’s education, and some like the “arts” education or higher standards that are now almost nonexistent in the public schools.  Still others have used the Charlotte Mason philosophy and method to some degree in their homes and believe in that curricular philosophy as a best practice for education.  While I and the staff know that Christ is in the center of what we do here and the philosophy and method are ideal for learning, I feel as if I may have assumed all the parents did too, and in that assumption have failed to communicate what this philosophy and methodology means to you and your child.

I would like this letter to be the first in a series that details the many of the different ways that a Charlotte Mason education is set apart in today’s popular educational culture by delineating the core principles of what Ambleside schools are all about.  I want to limit my discourse to a single typed page each time, but ask that as I send them you invest the time to read why we believe your children will benefit from this type of education.  It is one thing to feel your child is receiving the best education available; it is another to know they are.  Many of our policies are based upon this philosophy, and therefore to understand the philosophy may help in a better understanding of the policy.

So the first tenet of an Ambleside education I would like to put before you is that under the Charlotte Mason philosophy, “Children are born persons…the beautiful infant frame is but the setting of a jewel of such astonishing worth that, put the whole world in one scale and this jewel in the other, and the scale which holds the world flies up outbalanced,” and the mind of a child is fully capable for learning at birth, “If we have not proved that a child is born a person with a mind as complete and as beautiful as his beautiful little body, can we at least show that he always has all the mind he requires for his occasions; that is, that his mind is the instrument of his education and that his education does not produce his mind.” (Mason, 1989)  An Ambleside education values the child as a person, fully formed, not fully grown; mind, body, spirit, and recognizes the value each child has.  The value is not only to the parent, or to the teacher, but also in God’s eyes, each life is valued as priceless.

The mind of a child (and adult) feeds, much like their body does, but the nourishment source is different.  “Education, like faith, is the evidence of things not seen.  We must begin with the notion that the business of the body is to grow; and it grows upon food, which food is composed of living cells, each a perfect life in itself.  In like manner, though all analogies are misleading and inadequate, the only fit sustenance for the mind is ideas, and an idea too, like the singe cell of cellular tissue, appears to go through the stages and functions of a life…and this process must be considered carefully in the education of children.  We may not take things casually as we have done.  Our business is to give children the great ideas of life, of religion, history, science; but it is the ideas we must give, clothed upon with facts as they occur, and must leave this child to deal with these as he chooses.” (Mason, 1989)

I encourage each family to purchase the 6 volume set of Charlotte Mason books and read from that set, in particular, Home Education, A Philosophy of Education, and Parents and Children, also Karen Andreola’s, A Charlotte Mason Companion, and Susan Schaeffer Macaulay’s, For the Children’s Sake (available on Amazon.com for total cost for all 8 book of approximately $60.00 new, or 50.00 used – plus shipping).  These 8 books will help any parent in parenting and providing an environment that will help their children grow in mind, body, and spirit.  I pray that as you read more of Charlotte Mason’s writings in the future, you will come to realize the value of what you are providing in a text-centered (in rich wonderful literature), Ambleside Education far exceeds the cost of tuition and outweighs any concerns you may have had in selecting a “non-progressive, worldly” education for your child.

Blessings,         Chris Sloan

Wonderful article published by the San Angelo Standard Times about the Veteran’s Day Ceremony.  Read on and tell us what you think!

http://www.gosanangelo.com/news/2011/nov/11/students-display-respect-for-valor/