Laura Sandefer

January 12, 2015

You’d think it would be one of these:

  • Online learning
  • Socratic discussions
  • Collaborative quest work
  • Emphasis on writing, public speaking, logic and rhetoric
  • Peer managed studios
  • High standards of kindness and honesty.

But it’s not.

The biggest adjustment incoming middle school and high school Eagles encounter is a two-fold life skill – both simple and difficult:

  • Organizing work and time management.

A common reflection from new parents is this: “In our previous school, our child was always told what to do, when to do it and how to do it.”

At Acton, we have no bells that shout, “Math is over. Now go to English.”

This signal must come from within.

The Eagles must ask themselves: How much time do I need to finish my Deep Book? Should I focus first on Khan skills or Civilization today? Why did I fail to finish my Genre Badge last week? What is urgent and what is important today?

I’ve learned when my sons are struggling at Acton, the best questions I ask include reflections about their organization and time management practices rather than simply content of the curriculum: “You seem stuck in math. Are you spending as much time there as you do in your reading?” Or, “I know you are disappointed not to earn your badge. You worked hard. Was the work itself too challenging or is it a matter of organizing the work better as you go and then remembering to post it online?”

There are days I wonder what my life would have been like if I had been given this opportunity at age 12.

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6th-8th Grade

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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.