Monthly Archives: July 2014

Slouching Towards a Prestigious Degree

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A rigorous four year education at a top university can be a life changing gift.  But students and parents will want to do a great deal of research and soul searching before betting  retirement accounts and a mountain of debt on prestige alone, particularly if it’s based on a brittle definition of success.

Don’t Send Your Kid to the Ivy League: The nation’s top colleges are turning our kids into zombies from the New Republic is a must read for savvy parents and students.  It’s not just another diatribe about college tuition, but a look deep inside the machine of elite  higher education.

The only quibble might be with the author’s promotion of elite state universities as an alternative: less expensive fool’s gold isn’t necessarily a bargain for those seeking meaningful success, satisfaction and fulfillment in life.


Apprenticeships – a Sweet Deal

Even as other middle schoolers are frittering away their summers playing video games, our Eagles are continuing their apprenticeships and honing valuable 21st century skills.

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Here an Eagle works in one of Austin’s finest bakeries, where she’s done such a great job that the manager has told her she can come back and work “anytime she wants.”

Five Rules for Would-be-Guides

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How we equip and inspire Guides at Acton Academy?

Becoming a Guide is difficult, but it’s not complicated.  Here are five simple principles to follow:

1.  Make a deep and personal covenant with each Eagle.

Eagles must know you care about them.  That’s why a Guide’s first task is to memorize each Eagle’s name, face and personal history before stepping into the studio.

The second task is a five to ten minute one-on-one meeting to listen to each Eagle’s dreams and set the learning contract.  the message is: “If you pledge to live up to your promises to try hard and never give up and practice intentionality, I’ll be by your side as you work to make your dream a reality.”

2.  Praise effort.

Praising results – for example, saying “great job” – may seem innocent enough, but it sends the message: “I’ll be grading your work.”  Instead, praise hard work and demonstrations of character, and the quality of the work will soar, with far less stress for you and the Eagles.

3.   Never answer a question.

Never.  Ever. Not for any reason.  Not one. And when you do, admit the mistake publicly, apologize, analyze what went wrong and find ways to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

4.  Offer questions, choices, natural consequences and processes to try.

Instead of answers, offer a deeper question.  Or a choice of actions, with natural consequences described by you (or even better, an Eagle.)   Or offer a choice of processes that will lead to the acquisition of a new skill, a character trait, or both.

5. Count slowly to 100 before intervening. Then count to 100 again.

This is the most difficult task of all.  When the studio slips into chaos, it is natural to want to step in and restore order.  It feels like torture to let the bedlam continue.  But just wait; count to 100 and then count to 100 again, if necessary, before intervening.  With enough patience, leaders will emerge to restore order.  Do not rob these young heroes of the opportunity to lead their Learning Communities and practice self governance just because of your ego or need for control.

Being a Guide is hard, but not complicated.  Just like being a parent.