By Lauren Quinn, Co-Founder & Head of School
One of the many benefits of being a part of a global network of schools is getting to see how other Acton owners are communicating the “why” behind our learning design and educational philosophy. While each affiliate school has their own “flavor” based on the community they serve, our mission is the same- to guide each child who enters our doors to find a calling and change the world.
If you are like me, you may want this lofty statement broken down a bit further, or have questions about how this translates to the day in and day out of a typical school day. In other words, if you are well-versed in the vernacular of traditional education, like the vast majority of us, you are likely wondering, “What’s our curriculum at Acton?”
This is a question I get often and am always happy to share our self-paced learning design, our integrative projects, our writing process and civilization studies. In describing our “curriculum” for our youngest learners, I will share our belief in embodied learning through Montessori materials, hands-on projects and daily outdoor explorations- with ample opportunity for play.
I am aware that my enthusiasm for what takes place inside (and outside) the studio walls each day does not always lend itself to being succinct.
Recently, a network colleague (with the gift of being clear and concise), shared his answer to the commonly asked question. He says, “What’s our curriculum? Self-awareness and self-confidence. Always.” (Thank you Matt Beaudreau!)
It’s true. While our heroes are always learning about the world around them, the most important learning they are doing is about themselves.
Confidence in our abilities allows us to try new things, overcome challenges, and learn at exponential rates. Essentially, it allows us to operate in the “challenge zone” where optimal learning outcomes emerge. Self-awareness allows us to acknowledge our own unique set of strengths and weaknesses, reflecting on how we can improve and use our gifts to hone in on a particular passion that can serve the world in some way.
If we look at our own lives and trajectory, it is likely we can all point to times when our own personal supply of confidence and self-awareness has had a profound impact on our learning and overall well-being.
At Acton, we believe every single child has a gift to offer the world. Discovering these gifts takes practice, reflection, feedback, and guidance as we provide the experiences and environment for our learners to interact with the world around them in meaningful ways. Our “curriculum” includes all of these things and more, as finding a calling is a messy process- one that would simply not be possible without deeply and truly knowing ourselves.
In the spirit of self-awareness, I will lean on the words of another with the gift of succinctness to sum it up- “Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” – Aristotle
(Repost from December 1, 2018)