Competence or Prestige?

The news breaking around us regarding college admissions scandals is beyond dispiriting. Sadly, it is likely the tip of the iceberg. The layers of corruption run deep.

These are stories of adults and parents doing terrible things to children. They are shocking because of their scale and criminality. One can only imagine what damage is done on the souls of the children in their midst.

All of this fuels my urgency to continue fighting for the small learning experience we call “Acton Academy.”

We built Acton as the antidote to robbing children of what they rightfully own. We named it after Lord John Alberg-Acton whose scholarly work focused on liberty and virtue. Lord Acton wondered if a free society could also be virtuous. He wrote, “Power tends to corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

Acton Academy exists to free children to be richly competent in a world where others around them have parents who seek ease or prestige as the ultimate value; thereby refusing to let their children fail and continually making their paths easier.

With ingrained and hard-earned competence, the Acton graduates won’t sit idly by waiting for someone to fix their problems or get them a job. They’ll be excited to stand up and get to work, using their gifts for good.

To the parents at Acton Academy: Thank you for your courage. I know what we are doing together is very, very hard. Yet each day you say “yes” to the rare work of letting your children take real responsibility for their learning. You don’t resist the Acton tools such as our parent contract and the parent communication protocol. You know it is not there to protect us as school administrators. You know it is there for one reason: We believe in your children. We know they have to do big things on their own in order to claim their competence and giftedness. We believe they can do amazing things. We believe they will rightly earn their place in the world and make it better. Thank you for partnering with us and sharing these beliefs. I wish it could be easier, but it cannot by nature be so.

At Acton Academy, we are fueled by a deep love of freedom, of humanity and virtue. This isn’t a popularity contest. Not everyone wants the hard road of transformational learning. People do leave when it gets hard and we honor that choice, too.

But I do know that any school or person who promises a journey with no frustration, easy progression through grade levels and always-happy parents is either bluffing or just wants to get people through a system to count it as a success. There is no learning without frustration. There is no love without suffering.

Our children deserve honest struggle which builds deep, strong roots. And they are vastly capable of facing it with courage. The courage to grow.