What IS the Adventure?

By Lauren Quinn, Co-Founder and Head of School

“I love Acton Academy! I would say it’s an excellent choice for any families looking for an adventurous education.”

This was a comment made recently on our neighborhood list serve, in response to our upcoming Open House event. I’ve been thinking about it ever since. Mostly, because I am always looking for ways to better explain to families what that adventure actually IS. Is it our cool, hands-on quests? Is it allowing children to learn at their own pace? Is it our approach of asking questions to guide and facilitate learning? Is it that we use a new language of “heroes” and “journeys” or mantras like “failure leads to success” or “every child is a genius” (both sincere and rooted in our deep beliefs about learning.)

I would say these elements definitely make us different from a traditional education, but I would argue this is not what makes an “Acton” education an adventure.

What makes our learner-driven community a true adventure is that we are offering what is called an “experiential education” for families. What does this mean?

As an Acton Academy, this means that learning is a series of authentic experiences and involves a constant process of learning through reflection on these experiences.

“For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.” – Aristotle

Doing what exactly? Well, everything.

From being given a budget for classroom resources like paper and pencils, planning and executing field trips and school events, to trying out different systems of self-governance and peer accountability, our learners are given opportunities to do it all. And because they are given opportunities to do it all, they are given opportunities to fail at doing it.

We don’t save our learners from the struggle. We welcome it- because we know this is where the real learning happens.

It is an adventure- filled with uncharted territories, muddy waters, surprising twists and turns, and immeasurable treasures to be found.

My list of treasures is ever growing but here are just a few of my own:

  • Seeing a young person discover his/her untapped strength and potential daily
  • Watching an eight year old facilitate a successful conflict resolution between two of her peers
  • Hearing a nine year old describe growth and progress as circular and constant
  • Being a part of a parent community that leads by hope and courage
  • Being a part of a school community where fun, laughter and joy abounds- that honors the delicate balance of taking itself seriously, but not too seriously.

These are the truest of treasures only to be found on this wild adventure we call school.

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