Give children a wide range of subjects, with the end in view of establishing in each case some one or more of the relations I have indicated. Let them learn from first-hand sources of information––really good books, the best going, on the subject they are engaged upon. Let them get at the books themselves, and do not let them be flooded with a warm diluent at the lips of their teacher. The teacher's business is to indicate, stimulate, direct and constrain to the acquirement of knowledge, but by no means to be the fountain-head and source of all knowledge in his or her own person. The less parents and teachers talk and expound their rations of knowledge and thought to the children they are educating, the better for the children.
In Charlotte Mason’s thought and experience, curricula is not a product; it is an outcome of a philosophy. With this in mind, Ambleside Schools International drew on Mason’s collected works to create a formal curriculum for students in grades K–12 and an informal curriculum for preschool and after-school care.
As the children mature, the curricula they encounter broadens and deepens. It moves beyond fundamental skills to advanced work that prepares them to cultivate a rich intellectual life, regardless of their post-secondary paths.
The Ambleside curricula is comprised of skill-based (disciplinary) and content-based (inspirational) instruction. These are not mutually exclusive forms of instruction—each discipline is infused with inspiration; each inspiration requires its discipline. Disciplinary and inspirational instruction work in tandem, enlivening students’ rigorous engagement with ideas and natural growth in knowledge.
Curricula consist primarily of living books, narratives. These nourish the mind, allowing it to assimilate information and gain knowledge. Some are classics that stand the test of time; others feature beautiful language, universal themes, rich characters, or intricate plots. Still others offer disciplinary information in an inspirational, accessible format.
Whenever possible, ASI selects books that are in print, readily available, to accommodate the broadest possible audience. Some resources are selectively available via used book stores and Web sites; these have been chosen because they will most effectively reach the mind of the student.
The Ambleside curricula provides:
- a wide and varied course of study.
- an alternating weekly plan for skill development and content mastery.
- exposure to knowledge that is vital, fruitful, interesting, and idea-rich.
- books characterized as representing “the best thought of the best writers.”
- materials that aid in understanding and exploring, without diluting, the discipline.
- grade level sequences for core subjects, among them mathematics, grammar, composition, and phonics.
- grade level sequences for inspirational subjects, among them citizenship and science.
- science observations and experiments correlated with science texts.
- handwork projects and picture study reproductions.
- abbreviated versions of Shakespeare’s plays.
- Gouin series for Spanish instruction.
- conference calls with home and school educators on a variety of topics.