Maryellen St. Cyr's blog

Ideas to Ponder

Ideas to Ponder was written by an Ambleside Teacher

At Ambleside we often discuss our “paradigm shift’: from textbooks, grades, and stickers to “living books,” “narrations,” and “habits.” It’s difficult, for many of us. We’re not just learning about a method of education; we’re learning again how to learn. Often I hear a parent say, “I’m glad my kids are getting this kind of education.” You ought to be glad. I would know. I was one of them.

The Order of Bringing Up Children

The Order of Bringing Up Children

We often distinguish the order of things by considering the importance of their ends.

I’m reminded of a story that a colleague shared. One of her first-grade students had already identified the end of education. He announced, all in one breath: “We-go-to-school-to-get-good-education-to-go-to-a-good-university-to-get-a-good-job-to-make-good-money!” 

Approaching Summer

We know that the Will acts upon ideas; that ideas are presented to the mind in many ways––by books, talk, spiritual influences; that, to let ourselves be moved by a mere suggestion is an act of allowance and not of will; that an act of will is not the act of a single power… but an impulse that gathers force from Reason, Conscience, Affection; that, having come to a head by degrees, its operations also are regular and successive, going through the stages of intention, purpose, resolution; and that, when we are called upon for acts of will about small matters, such as going here or there, buy

Reckoning with a Child's "Reason"

We should teach children not to 'lean' (too confidently) 'unto their own understanding,' because the function of reason is to give logical demonstration of mathematical truth and of an initial idea, accepted by the will. In the former case reason is, perhaps, an infallible guide, but in the second it is not always a safe one, for whether that initial idea be right or wrong, reason will confirm it by irrefragable proofs.

Is Tough Parenting the Answer?

In the January 20 edition of Time Magazine, there appeared an article asking this question. The article is a response to Amy Chua’s new book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. Time’s article, and presumably the book, leave one wondering: Is it good parenting to forbid your daughter’s attendance at slumber parties, to forbid computer games, and to make her sit at a piano for five plus hours (until she gets it right)?

The Meaning of Must

There is a human tendency to think of life as a grand abstraction rather than as a set of objectives to be completed in definite hours. In her book, 168 Hours, Laura Vanderkam suggests:

If you want to be a writer, you must dedicate hours to putting words on a page…
To be a mindful parent, you must spend time with your child….
If you want to sing well in a functioning chorus, you must show up for rehearsals…
If you want to be healthy, you must exercise…


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