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Chapter 4: The Teacher and the Atmosphere
The role of the teacher or parent in setting a classroom atmosphere of joy and order hinges on the nature of authority between the adult and the students. Does the teacher lead with an authoritarian or authoritative role? The authoritarian teacher leads by anxious and controlling means, setting an unpredictable and fragile atmosphere that squelches a student’s love of learning, desire for growth, and sense of joy and peace. The authoritative teacher, as described by Charlotte Mason in School Education, leads as a person authorized by another, with immovable fixed principles in all matters of importance. Proper authoritative leadership lives peacefully under authority and is moved only by responsibility and what is good and right; selfish wants and needs are quickly dismissed. At Ambleside® schools and homeschools, weakness is not seen as a disturbance, but rather as an opportunity for discipleship; “It is good to be me here with you. . . . We’re going to figure out a strategy to help you move in a more life-giving direction.” Dr. Bill St. Cyr and Maryellen St. Cyr of Ambleside® Schools International discuss the distinctives of a proper approach to authority in the classroom that fosters an atmosphere of joy, curiosity, exploration, learning, and peace.