"“I want to live in the Light of a Countenance which never ceases to smile upon me” is the language of the soul..."
— Charlotte Mason
There is no greater truth than the love of God revealed in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is in the love of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit that we discover fullness of life.
Thus, parent and teacher have no greater responsibility than cultivating a child's joyful and obedient relationship with our loving God.
With this in mind, the Vine School family gathers each morning to acknowledge God through prayer and praise. Students study the Bible daily, not merely as an academic discipline, but to experience how this holy mystery — God with man — is revealed in the Old and New Testaments.
Weekly assemblies include a devotional message by a staff member, prayer and praise are part of our school’s weekly routine. Meditative reading of God’s word and reliance upon His guiding love are part of our school’s daily rhythm. As parents, teachers, and pupils relate to one another and their communities, they endeavor to move toward one another in genuine love.
The staff of the Vine School all come from diverse backgrounds. However, they share a common commitment to Jesus Christ and the central teachings of the New Testament. All Vine School staff affirm the Nicene Creed, the School’s Statement of Faith, and Ambleside Code of Personal Conduct.
“We must go back to the axiom of Augustine, ‘The soul of man is for God, as God is for the soul.’ The soul has one appetite, for the things of God; breathes one air, the breath, the Spirit of God; has one desire, for the knowledge of God; one only joy, in the face of God. “I want to live in the Light of a Countenance which never ceases to smile upon me” is the language of the soul. The direct action of the soul is all Godward, with a reflex action towards men. The speech of the soul is prayer and praise, the right hand of the soul is faith, the light of the soul is love, the love of God shed abroad upon it.”
— Charlotte Mason
FUNDAMENTAL CONVICTIONS ABOUT EDUCATION
A Stimulating, Non-Competitive Atmosphere
Pupils do not compete with their peers for approval, marks or prizes. In an atmosphere of earnest enquiry, pupils are free to learn for the pleasure of learning. Great ideas, great works of literature and art, the glory of the created world and the common experiences of life are placed before the pupils to study, discuss and appreciate. The development of knowledge, character and wisdom is the end, rather than marks or grades.
The Discipline of Habit
While recognising that pupils have various levels of gifting, we expect every pupil to develop the habits necessary for producing work of the highest quality, in keeping with their potential.
We consider the process to be as important as the end product. Rather than developing persons who can study for the next exam, we are interested in helping pupils develop a life of study. We ask the questions: Did she pay attention? Did he try hard? Was she thorough? We believe school is not just an institution to get through, but rather a place to develop habits that will serve children the rest of their lives.
Education as Vital, Dynamic, Living
Real learning occurs when the learner wonders, asks “why?” and “how?” It is essential that the teacher cultivates an atmosphere that is rich in great ideas which stimulate thought. Our objective is to place the very best books before our pupils, “living books”, rich in content and ideas. Through the use of such books pupils are able to relate to great scientists, mathematicians, philosophers, historians, artists, poets and explorers.
The Infinite Dignity and Potential of Each Child
All children, whether believers or unbelievers, are created to resemble, reflect and represent their Creator. Because they are made in God’s image, they are born with potential for a fruitful life, according to their different interests, abilities and relationships. At the Vine School, every child participates in a broad, rigorous curriculum and is expected to read, calculate, solve, attend, explore, ponder, recite, paint and sing. They are not identified by their strengths and weaknesses but are all expected to learn and grow to their full potential.
“Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up
in the training and instruction of the Lord.”
— Ephesians 6:4
The Priority of the Relational Life
Children live in relationship with God, self, others, creation, and the world of ideas. These relationships are cultivated in the educational process through a broad, challenging curriculum under the guidance of teachers who seek to relate to pupils, parents, and one another in accordance with the principles of Jesus Christ. It is not enough to merely receive, retain and relay notional knowledge, but knowledge must be relational and covenantal, resulting in delight, practice, obedience and teaching of others.
The Importance of Delight and of Struggle
Children will naturally delight in the feast of great ideas set before them. They will savour them and grow in the ability to enjoy and celebrate their relations with persons, ideas, and creation. But they will also at times struggle. Struggle is as essential to the learning process as delight. Children must learn to labour with problems not yet grasped, to remain on task when uncertain of the outcome, to struggle to completion even when they are tired or frustrated, to experience both the rewards and negative consequences of their actions. There will be no growth in character without struggle.
Children are to be continuously engaged with inspirational ideas and meaningful work. The classroom is not a place for entertainment and indulgence, anymore than it is a place for meaningless drudgery. Such practices encourage passivity and detract from the satisfaction that comes with growing knowledge and fruitful labour.
To grow, a pupil must be strenuously engaged in the work of learning. Thus, the Vine School teachers, while often creative in their presentations, make no effort to entertain their pupils. They will be loving but will not be indulgent.
The Reality of the Fall
All children have inherited a rebellious, sinful nature and are legally regarded by their Creator as guilty. Disordered desires and a broken world affect every aspect of education, including thoughts, feelings and actions so that every child will have to contend with indwelling sin.
Effort required to Develop Christ-like Character
Although salvation can never be earned by human effort, hard work and personal sacrifice are requirements for a productive, effective Christian life. The Vine School urges teachers and pupils to make every effort to add goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and love to their Christian faith. (2 Peter 1:5)