Friday, May 9, 2014

Ambleside 2014 - Plain Living and High Thinking

"An unwalled university all dedicate to plain living and high thinking."
 - Charlotte Mason on Ambleside


My husband and I have just returned from a dream trip to England.  We spent one week in the Lake District with some very special friends and then three days in London.  I kept an abbreviated journal of sorts, which is a good thing as already some events and places seem distant and foggy.  And my hopes for nature journal entries did not happen - CM fail.  But I think I was in each moment, taking it in and marveling that I was standing and experiencing life in the exact same places Charlotte Mason and her students did.

Not to be dramatic or anything, but I am changed.  I understand so much more of this philosophy now.  Seeing the different houses, the college, the archives at the Armitt, the AMAZING countryside...I hardly know where to begin.

But my traveling is just beginning, as I speak at the NICHE conference in Des Moines next week, then to see my parents in Ohio, then events every other week or so.  So I will post here about this trip irregularly, when I can manage it.

Charlotte first mentions Ambleside, this quaint village at the tip of Lake Windermere, in 1864.  She was 22 and it was then that this rare and famous picture was taken. (Apparently, she didn't like to have her picture taken!)


She visited many times in the coming years and finally moved to Ambleside as her chosen spot for the teacher training college when she was 50.  And my, I now can see why!  It is another world, far away from the hustle and bustle of London. The beauty and refreshment offered by this unique landscape would be the perfect place to walk, observe, contemplate, and learn. The dichotomy between the city and the country was pronounced for me as we visited London on our final 3 days of the trip. Plus, this area drew many high-minded, creative people such as William Wordsworth, Robert Southey, John Ruskin, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Matthew Arnold, The Armitt Sisters, Beatrix Potter and many more.

on a stile above High Sweden Bridge

One thing that really struck home for me was that learning this philosophy and method takes time.  Time to think, prepare, and put into practice.  Many of us learned her methods on the fly while raising up our children, which is fine as that was our circumstance.  None of us have the luxury of attending a 2-year program like what she offered at her House of Education, although certain elements can be found at some institutions and conferences.  I mention this because I think it would be helpful if you know any college-age student or a young married person to share For the Children's Sake or even Home Education.  Then continue the conversation with them.  A little seed of this paradigm here and there will sprout eventually. And it takes time to let it sink in.  I've seen it a few times myself.


It's good to be home.

-Nancy


tea-for-one pot that dh bought for me








16 comments:

  1. How wonderful. You are so right that it takes time to learn CM philosophies, but I am so thankful that I am learning all the time and seeing fruit now in my children. Love the tea pot.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Sarah. My husband and I are new converts to tea!

      Delete
  2. Nancy, Nancy, Nancy...I am so thankful that you could be in.the.moment. Since this was a life-changing trip I am glad that you experienced it with your dear husband. Oh, I am thankful and rejoicing for my dear friend and her wonder-filled adventure.
    With all love, with every true and pure thought and well wishes for you and your dear ones, sip the tea from the beautiful pots and relish in the reminiscences of the time that was yours together - your friend, R

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are so eloquent, Richele. Thank you.

      Delete
  3. Lovely pictures. I had to smile about your comment about sharing For the Children's Sake with a college student or young person. We have a lovely single lady friend who serves as a homeschooling support teacher for homeschooling families in our mission here in Africa. She came here straight out of a university teaching degree program, but without any professional classroom teaching experience yet. Anyhow, she stayed with our family for a month last fall when she was ill, and saw how we homeschooled in the CM way which led to some interesting conversations. I eventually loaned her my For the Children's Sake, which she read. This spring, as she as travelled around to several different homeschooling families (mostly following the school-at-home paradigm), she has been talking with all of these mothers about these ideas and passing my book around to them. :) In our recent group-learning session for homeschoolers, she taught all of her history and science lessons through stories since she's been bit by the bug that we learn better through stories and ideas rather than lists of facts, and having them write things in response such as "tell three things you found interesting about Galileo" rather than having them fill out worksheets. She has even told me that when her 2 year commitment serving here is up and she returns to the US, she may seek to find employment in a CM-style school rather than in the PS system. All that to say...that yes, those little seeds of paradigm shift DO take root and will sprout. I've been seeing it with my own eyes these past 6 months.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for sharing this, Jen! This is exactly how it starts with many people. I'm sure your family was so authentic, real, and alive with learning - who wouldn't be interested?

      Delete
  4. Oh, what a glorious opportunity! I'm so glad you're sharing some photos and thoughts with us from your trip.

    And thank you for that nudge about sharing CM with new mothers or young women. There's a new mother I know who I've been thinking about sharing For the Children's Sake with... but have felt a little shy about doing so. But I am going to do it anyway, because you are right, planting those seeds is important.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think that would be a wonderful thing to do, Amber! And even if it takes years, let me know if anything ever comes of it.

      Delete
    2. I will do so. And I'm going to see her on Monday so I'll pass the book along then. I'm curious to see what happens!

      Delete
  5. It sounds like it was just so lovely! I think Home Education would be the perfect baby shower gift :)

    ReplyDelete
  6. So glad you got to go, Nancy. I look forward to hearing more about your trip!

    PS. Love your new sidebar photo! :) So spring-y and fresh!

    Amy

    ReplyDelete
  7. awww.... lovely teapot. You will have to go back. You are on the road now ... .stay well. See you in June.
    Hot here already.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Yes, you are right. This method takes time.... but how impatient I can be. I hope I will be patient. :)

    Charmayne

    ReplyDelete
  9. That is a really good idea for new mothers. I will keep that in mind when I meet a new mom....actually I already know of a new mom who is thinking of possibly homeschooling. I need to get her the book.

    Charmayne

    ReplyDelete