Breadth and Depth but No Instant Gratification

Laura Sandefer

February 16, 2018

We want our children to read well now. We want out children to write and speak with perfect grammar now. We want their struggle to be over now. We want them to be good at math now. We want social conflicts to be resolved now.

Traditional schools give instant gratification. It’s probably why I loved school. Take a class. Study for the test. Get a grade. Poof! It’s over. On to the next subject…

But transformational learning happens slowly. Deep friendships evolve slowly. Habits and character form day-by-day over months and years.

Since patience is my weak suit what can I do to feel better about my child’s learning at Acton?

I can remember.

I can remember the solid, purposeful design in the learning journey at Acton Academy. We designed it for the long haul, not the quick fix. There is a progression in the experience – from sparking curiosity to turning up the heat with real world challenges to being on fire with passion and deep learning.

This design requires a great deal of trust and patience from parents. Yes, trust and patience with the system but more importantly, trust and patience with the children.

Here is a simple framework of the designed progression from studio to studio:

Elementary Studio: Stoking the Flames

Think Breadth.

And gaining foundational learning and social skills.

The goal in this early studio is to spark a deep curiosity about this wondrous world and equip young Eagles with foundational reading, writing and math skills. In addition, our youngest heroes learn the important work habits of goal setting and simple time management along with how to be a good friend and a kind, helpful community participant. Finally, they learn the hard lesson of how to live within boundaries.

Middle School Studio: Feeling the heat

Think a mixture of breadth and depth.

And learning to take responsibility for choices.

Within the grand sweeps or breadth of Civilization and the sciences, Eagles will take deep dives. They will learn how to secure an apprenticeship and then feel the heat of being out in the world working beside true professionals.

There is no more room for fudging, passing off mediocre work as “best effort” or being snarky with friends. There is no room for parents to cover for Eagles. The grappling with honesty, accountability and hard work is where the heat forges character. Consequences are real and can burn.

Launchpad: In the Fire

Think depth.

And taking on real responsibility, leadership and independence.

Launchpad is designed for depth. From personal life planning to intellectual pursuits, these years are laser-focused on preparing each Eagle to be strong and purposeful moving onto the next stage of life in the real world: college or another venture. The curriculum is designed around individualized goals based on each Eagle’s future plan. The focus now is on deep dives with experts, teachers and mentors in areas that matter to each person. In addition, writing, creative collaboration and high-level reading are mastered and Socratic discussions take on Harvard-like case method intensity. These are young people in the fire of pursuing personal missions, honing their gifts, seeking their calling. And wanting to be the heroes who change the world.

Remind me to remember. So much is brewing within the mind and heart of my child on this journey. If I worry the learning isn’t happening and pull my son out too early for fear he’s too stuck, it’s like opening the oven door when the soufflé is only almost ready. Without the heat, it simply never rises to its full and gorgeous potential.

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Middle School

6th-8th Grade

acton academy, highschool, modern school,montessori, private school in san diego , private school in la mesa

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.