Acton Academy Northwest Austin

Parent Toolshed

The following is an excerpt from a post on the original Acton Academy MS blog.

What do Guides do at Acton Academy?

Guides at Acton Academy are gamemakers who propose exciting challenges, set  boundaries and invite Eagles to start a life changing journey.

Guides authority is limited by an Eagle-Guide contract that restricts the role to five primary tasks:

1.  Guides lift the eyes of Eagles to the horizon.

Guides believe each Eagle is a genius who deserves to find a calling that will change the world.

Guides inspire Eagles by offering a Hero’s Journey through life, beginning with the end in mind; discovering precious gifts and using them in a joyful way to serve others as they build a strong community.

2.  Guides are gamemakers who provide challenges, frameworks, processes, tools, milestones and world class examples.

Guide’s offer real world challenges that resonate with young heroes.  A Guide is a gamemaker who describes an exciting quest; sets incentives and rules and invites Eagles to play.

3.  Guides hold up a mirror of accountability.

Guides encourage Eagles to create covenants to govern the studio and then allow Eagles to learn from mistakes.  Guides insist on due process and if the studio isn’t living up to its promises, hold up a mirror so the tribe can decide to do as they promised or explicitly lower its standards.

4.  Guides shepherd the energy of the learning community.

Guides feed and nurture learner driven communities through the rhythms, rituals and reflections that build a healthy community, proposing intrinsic and extrinsic rewards for individuals, squads and the studio to boost intentionality and energy.

5.  Guides prepare Eagles to become gamemakers.

A Guide’s final and most important role is to catalogue, record, document and simplify processes so Eagles can become gamemakers themselves.  Guides celebrate as Eagles take on more and more of a Guide’s responsibilities until having an adult in the studio is no longer necessary.

What do Guides NOT do at Acton Academy?

1.  Guides do not pose as Unicorn Teachers.

We each long for a personal tutor with the wisdom of Socrates; the curiosity of Nobel Physicist Richard Feynman; the developmental knowledge Jean Piaget; the pedagogy of Maria Montessori and the emotional intelligence of Oprah Winfrey.

Unfortunately, such Unicorn Teachers do not exist.

2.  Guides do not act as parents.

Guides do not nag or try to force Eagles to work.  Instead, guides trust parents to parent.  Guides never offer parenting advice.

3.  Guides do not offer insights about individual Eagles.

Many parents wish a trusted adult to ensure them their child is “above average.”  Acton Academy believes it is impossible for one adult to make accurate insights into the thinking and motivation of dozens of young people.

4.  Guides do not grade or lecture.

Guides do not grade.  Excellence at Acton Academy depending on whether an Eagle has given a “best effort or improved over time.

Guides never lecture.  Guides ask questions instead.

5.  Neither Guides nor owners offer financial advice, become enmeshed in family drama or act as bill collectors.

Guides are not financial experts, family counselors or bill collectors, so they do not help parents in these areas.

6.  Finally, Guides never answer any questions…EVER.

How many teachers are there at Acton Academy?

We often imply that there aren’t any teachers at Acton Academy.  That’s not true.  Traditional schools have classroom teachers to maintain discipline, dispense knowledge and assign passing grades.  The teacher-to-student ratio at most traditional schools is 1 adult to 20 or 30 students.

At Acton Academy, the teacher-to-Eagle ratio is nearly infinite, because our Eagles have access to subject matter experts from all over the world — from Sal Khan to Richard Feynman to an unknown genius on a YouTube video —  plus Socratic coaching from peers; mentors from scores of professions and heroic role models from antiquity to the present.

At Acton Academy we equip Eagles to engage teachers, coaches, experts and mentors whenever they need one, rather than to be captive to a single teacher-as-authority figure.