Ambiguity as Teacher – Part 2: A Story with an Ending We Need to Hear

Laura Sandefer

November 28, 2018

Sharing stories from the global network of Acton Academy may be the most powerful thing I can do to support parents on this journey. There is healing for us all in the stories we share.

Here is one for you to remember on those gut wrenching days when your child faces ambiguity, failure, and emotional distress. The story is shared by Shannon Baldwin, owner/head of school at Acton Academy Albuquerque:

This Session, our middle school studio went through the Personal Finance Quest and Genre. We have only one girl in this studio and she found it extremely challenging.  She is a high anxiety, perfectionist personality, and had no background knowledge about finance at all (which her studio mates did) and so felt behind out of the gate.

More than once, she was in tears and ready to give up, but continued to push ahead. She was not able to finish the quest in time to have a presentation for the Exhibition which pushed her into all out panic mode.  

Her studio mates (and I during some private mentoring time) encouraged her to take the step of presenting the story of her struggle and failure as a gift to her Studio, the parents, and herself.   

With much trepidation, she did, and has granted permission to share that presentation with you as an encouragement to any Eagles who may face a similar struggle.

During the Session reflection time, it became clear that taking this step was a HUGE deal in her Hero’s Journey – the visceral realization that honest failure is a part of the journey, that the world will not crumble when it happens, and that you will still be accepted for who you are.

These are the moments.

How very brave and loving! This story is profound in its message about what is necessary for humans to become whole: the ritual of returning, the ceremonial welcoming back of a hero from a traumatic experience.

One of our Acton’s parents, Erin Martin, serendipitously emailed me this week saying:  An interesting article that once again shows how the Hero’s Journey, and communal myths, rituals (and I would argue, guardrails) work to fight the ‘spiritual void’.  The description of helping vets re-frame and overcome PTSD is eerily similar to helping our Eagles overcome their fears that they aren’t good enough to recover from failure.

What we are doing together is far beyond “education” or “school.”  This is a moral and spiritual path of healing. Without ambiguity, we’d not have the opportunity to kick back enough of the darkness – our fears, our perfectionism, our need to control –  to see the light within.

Thank you Erin and Shannon for sharing.

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Middle School is where young people rapidly start owning their education. Middle school is the perfect time to develop intellect and character while gaining a deeper sense of self and the real world. Students have a broad palette of topics to study and pair in-depth academic exploration with real-world connections to experts and local apprenticeships. Middle School is about deepening a passion for individual subjects while broadening your understanding of yourself and your future.