Part one of a guest post by Artist Rebecca Faubion
My first encounter with an Acton Academy came through a phone conversation with Head of
School Jayme Bynum, in West Austin. “We’re looking for an Art Guide,” Jayme explained, and
went on to describe the unique ethos of the Acton system. The Art Guide would be responsible
for designing a Project-Based Quest that featured “real world relevance,” “learner agency” and
“creative problem-solving.” Immediately intrigued, I began pouring over the Acton Academy
website, and outlined a proposal for a Fine Art Quest.
Working with the elementary and middle school cohorts at Acton Academy West set something in motion
for me. Here was an educational system that mirrored so many best practices in my industry.
An Acton Studio is like a world-class Artisan workshop, only, it’s not just for art. It’s for all
subjects. And it’s fueled by the energy of young people leaning into their hero’s journey.
What’s missing, it seemed, was a way to facilitate a fully “Learner-Driven Art Program.” I
wanted a method for a cohort of 30+ youngsters to choose passion projects but also receive
in-depth, structured guidance. Most importantly, I wanted to set a rationale for high
achievement in the arts. What context would inspire kids to discover and persist in a personal
area of artistry?
The inspiration came after visiting an artists’ marketplace in Santa Fe, New Mexico. There, I
saw artisans sitting on handmade blankets and interacting with customers as they described
their creative process. This was a real world example of an Artisan economy, one that is taking
place in markets like this all over the planet.
The Santa Fe markets, and the experiences I’ve had as an Acton Art Guide, inspired me to
create Artisan: a Learner-Driven Art Quest Program. Through Artisan, young people get to
explore a variety of art projects, choose a track, and work toward creating their own store. A
library of premium videos offers multiple entry points, roping in even the “art-reluctant” kids.
Socratic discussion starters, Artisan Currency, and a classroom Supply Warehouse illicit
collaboration and problem-solving. Everything culminates in a Kids’ Artisan Marketplace–a
public exhibition of their effort, entrepreneurship and skill. It’s a learner-driven, blended
curriculum, and it’s for Fine Art. I warmly invite you to give it a try.
Rebecca Faubion is parent to a hero-in-progress at Acton Imprimis Lake Travis. She has taught
art for 20+ years, including Fine Art Quests at several Acton Academies. If you’d like to learn
more about Artisan, a learner-driven program for the arts, please visit Artful Kids Club,