Final Lesson – A Regret?

Laura Sandefer

February 9, 2018

My first three lessons were simply learning what the key ingredients are for brewing up an environment at home that feeds a child’s learning journey: hero’s stories, curiosity, and decision-making strategies. Combine these gently and let them marinate. It’s a nourishing combination.

My last lesson verges on being a regret. I understand only now how deeply courageous other parents have been to join us on this wild adventure of re-creating school.

It’s one thing to have a new idea. It’s another to let go of the familiar, even beloved, old idea and grasp on to something brand new. Joseph Campbell described the transitions from old ideas to new ones as potentially tortuous and painful.

Yet so many of you have done it.

Acton parents have crossed the threshold from familiar schooling to a brand new vision of what school could be. They’ve trusted us, trusted the process and stepped back so their children could step forward.

This is no small feat – even with the evidence we now have that Eagles learn deeply, lead with empathy, and succeed in apprenticeships, college applications, and traditional testing – to mention of few outcomes of the Acton experience.

Over the past few years, I have witnessed and engaged with other parents opening Actons launching around the world. Each day I hear their stories of challenges, quandaries, and celebrations. Often the stories are of parents bravely living through the growing pains during the first few months of the journey.

Hence, my final lesson.

Lesson #4: Parents who venture into a learner-driven community and stay to watch their children struggle, fail, get back up, grow, and achieve are the true heroes at Acton Academy.

These are the people changing the world today so their children may do so tomorrow. These are the people setting children free to find who they were meant to be. It’s the parents.

You may think because we ask parents not to intervene on behalf of their Eagle that we don’t believe parents are important as a part of our studio life. Quite the contrary. The parents fuel the entire experience with their choices, principles, and words.

I’ve always wanted this blog to help Acton parents by providing explanations of our methods and stories of how it all plays out at home. My mission moving forward is to go deeper into the experience in order to encourage and support parents better. There are no heroes who go at it alone. We all need the support of a community bound by common principles. And even when the journey gets hard, it doesn’t have to be tumultuous on the soul. There can be a feeling of peace and satisfaction when we know we are heading in the right direction. One day at a time.

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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.