Whether a guide, parent, guardian, or other adult loved one - we are all on this Acton journey for the same reason: We want our Eagles to be happy and equipped for life. It’s really that simple, isn’t it?
While that’s a pretty simple notion, how to go about being a part of making that happen isn’t always as simple! We want to help...to protect...to make things easier...to give them what we didn’t have, whether that be things or love or other intangibles that nurture or otherwise help make us who we are. But - sometimes what they need most is to NOT help, to NOT protect, and to NOT make things easier. What, in the moment, feels like support doesn’t always, in the long run, nurture strength and independence. How do we know what to do when? How do we allow for productive struggle and still make our Eagles feel loved and supported?
As Acton guides, we work to create a framework that cultivates a loving and supportive environment where Eagles can take risks and safely feel vulnerable as they experience the ups and downs of their Hero’s Journey. We set boundaries and design a program that supports student-led learning, then get out of their way. We trust them. We believe in them.
Acton guides promise to do the following:
1. Treat each young hero with the respect due a world-changing genius, no matter the circumstances.
No one would talk down to a struggling young Einstein if they knew later he would discover relativity. No one would call Madame Curie a “kid” if they knew of her future scientific discoveries. No one would ignore a young Martin Luther King if they could anticipate his courageous march to Selma in his future.
2. Adhere to a policy of powers being strictly limited by contract and due process.
Guides are delegated limited power by a written contract with the learners. Learners agree to join the community with certain voluntary contractual freedoms and responsibilities. A guide cannot unilaterally seize powers beyond the contract or act without due process.
3. Never answer questions.
Guides never answer a question. Instead of giving answers and direction, guides offer choices which may include a recipe or process, and natural consequences which illustrate the power of choice. By doing this, the ownership of problem-solving is returned to the Eagle, empowering them to be the master of their destiny.
4. Offer Growth Mindset praise while ignoring behavior that triggers a personal emotional response.
A guide offers Growth Mindset praise and personal testimony as encouragement, and looks to each Eagle and the community with “fresh eyes” every day. A guide may “hold up a mirror” to the Eagles as a reminder of promises made, but never issues judgements or nags, especially through leading questions, passive aggressive remarks or micromanagement. Instead, a guide ignores poor choices (unless safety is involved) letting the power of natural consequences do its work.
5. Equip learners to lead the tribe.
At every opportunity, studio processes are modeled and handed off to learners as soon as possible to de-emphasize the presence and power of an adult in the studio.
6. Be on a Hero’s Journey, too.
Acton’s mission is to inspire each person who enters our doors to find a calling that will change the world. A guide’s next step always requires the courage to look where they least want to look to discover the next step on a Hero’s Journey.
As Acton parents, you play a crucial role in developing the skills you chose Acton to help develop. Consistency is vital, or the skills and habits your Eagle is developing on campus will stagnate or even regress.
To support your Eagle on their Hero’s Journey you are asked to do the following:
1. Welcome Acton Academy as a self-paced environment.
Understand and embrace the fact that Eagles work at their own pace. A parent should never judge that pace but, rather, ask questions fueled by curiosity and a desire to be supportive. You are the cheerleader!
2. Celebrate progress.
A journey includes the adventure and experiences on the way, not just the destination. Effective Acton parenting involves shifting the focus of the conversation from the product to the process, highlighting and finding joy in the progress an Eagle is making in learning to learn, learning to do, and learning to be.
3. Allow your Eagle to fail early, cheaply and as often as necessary without intervening.
Know that your Eagle will struggle and how important that struggle is! In the coming weeks, we’ll launch a parent reading challenge that will help you through this brave parenting and share some tips and tricks for what to do when your Eagle does struggle.
4. Commit to the nuts and bolts of Acton Academy parenting.
We won’t ask you to run out at 8 pm for poster board, or to fight with your Eagle over homework. But, we will ask for some commitments that are essential to your Eagle’s journey and the success of our community. From volunteering to participating in weekly Family Meetings with your Eagle, we hope you will commit to partnering with us.
5. Be on a Hero’s Journey, too.
Just as we commit to as founders and guides, we ask parents to have the courage to look where they least want to look to discover the next step on their Hero’s Journey.
Go Deeper with this TED Talk of Carol Dweck discussing how to help our children to be hearty and resilient.