A few more thoughts that crossed my mind as I continue to contemplate this idea of imitation.
Recently, I read 3 John and noticed particularly verse 11:
"Beloved do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. The one who does good is of God; the one who does evil has not seen God."
That word 'imitate' jumped out at me, given all the Circe lectures on this topic that I've been listening to and thinking about lately (these and these). We learn by imitation – we are to imitate what is good and not what is evil. Therefore, we need to hold what is good (and true, and beautiful) before our children and students – in ourselves, in our learning materials, in our media choices and so forth. But then we need to stop and trust the Holy Spirit to work. Charlotte Mason makes the remark that the virtue that is borne of the instructed conscience "…has come to him through his books and his prayers – not through books alone, and not through prayers alone." (Ourselves, Book 2, p.69). Ultimately all this 'cultivating wisdom and virtue' isn't up to me. Ultimately, it's up to Him. Wisdom and virtue are the products of a changed heart, and only He can change hearts. I plant the seeds, He brings forth the harvest. I set the Good, the True, the Beautiful before them and then step aside to let Him work. I can't actually 'cultivate wisdom and virtue' – but He can and He invites me to cooperate with Him.
Humbling thought, that.