10 Essential Elements of an Acton Learner Driven Community

“The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.” Joseph Campbell 

I’d add to dear Joseph’s quote: “And you discover who you are by being in relationship with others.” 

This illustrates a paradox of an Acton community: highly individualized learning but only because it’s deeply rooted in community. 

I recently hung paintings of aspen trees in the elementary studio to share this truth to the children. Individual aspens share an extensive root system. The individual trees live longer and are stronger because of this shared system. The health of all depends on the health of the root system. 

Such is life in an Acton studio. Each learner is unique. And all need each other to learn and grow. 

Another paradox of the Acton community is that our learners strive to become highly independent only to realize how interdependent they need to be in order to thrive. The ultimate progression is from dependence to independence to interdependence. 

The interplay of the individual and the community stirs up an energy that is tangible when you walk into one of our studios. Some people call it the buzz of Acton. 

But it’s not a magical, mysterious force. 

It’s an energy intentionally formulated through the strategic layering of 10 essential elements atop the grounding belief that every child is a genius.

The elements are:

  1. The Hero’s Journey
  2. Growth Mindset
  3. Contracts
  4. Mixed ages
  5. The Socratic Method
  6. Trial and Error learning
  7. Excellence
  8. Freedom and Responsibility
  9. Frequent Public Exhibitions
  10. The Guide – a unique role for an adult 

I can’t wait to dig into each one of these over the next few days. In preparation for tomorrow’s post, you may want to ponder this: What’s your story?