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AmblesideOnline's Patio Chats:
21. Where Do Vital Ideas Come From?

We've talked about sparking the mind with ideas, and about books as a major source of those ideas. Let's think more about ideas. Remember our analogy about books as food? Some books were like mind candy, some were like mental sawdust, but some were delicious and healthy and even looked appetizing. Let's think about how that foundational concept of ideas from books drives our curriculum choices.

We don't just want books that are rich in vitally living ideas. We don't just want books that model well spoken language and teach vocabulary by using big words. We want those things, but there's something else we want: we want variety.

Our world is a big world, full of exotic places, people with different customs, discoveries to be made, laws like gravity to explore, geographical formations to wonder at. Let's think beyond the present and look at the past: there have been people living and doing heroic things and changing the very fabric of society with revolutionary ideas like freedom and electricity. Let's go even further and think beyond books. There are cultures who know dances we don't know, sing hymns we don't know, eat delicacies we never knew existed!

How do you bring all of this to a child? Well, you can't bring it ALL, but you can go for a diverse variety from among the best of those ideas. How do you determine which are the best? Nobility, greatness of mind, kindness have a large part. There are examples of heroic deeds, wonders of God, small kindnesses, breath-taking beauty everywhere you look. Those are the kinds of things we look for.

And we insist on variety. Every child must sample a little bit of history, geography, science. And there are not only books -- your child should experience science and songs, and crafts, and activity. If you follow AO's curriculum, you can be assured that your child will experience some of everything. And if you're working at training the habit of attention, you can get all of the school work done with plenty of time leftover after school time for your child to throw himself into whichever of those new ideas becomes a passion for him.

By the way, did you know that most of these Patio Chat snippets come straight from Charlotte Mason's 20 foundational Principles of Education? You can read all 20 for yourself at .

"The best thoughts that the world has are stored in books. We must introduce our children to books--the very best books. Our concern as educators is to have abundance and orderly serving of them." [from Charlotte Mason's Vol. 6 pg 26]

[Today's patio chat comes from Principle 11]

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