Exhibitions and Portfolios: How will you receive your child’s gift?


I asked one of our past guides to journal about what she thought worked so well in the Acton concept and why. (Thank you, dear Aubrie.)

I expected her to say one of my favorite facets:

  • Online programs because they personalize learning.
  • Mixed age studios because children learn more from each other than we could ever teach them.
  • Big projects because they are fun, quest-like and have real world application.
  • Socratic discussions because they make you think critically while crystallizing communication skills.
  • The Hero’s Journey because it provides intimate meaning for each individual.


She said, “Public exhibitions of learning and portfolios.”


“They create purpose, relevancy and meaning to the work being done all session. Why are we laboring so hard? Not because the teacher said so. It is because I want to create something very special – a gift – to show my parents and the world.

“The portfolios, in conjunction with exhibitions, are incredible…as opposed to a letter or number grade given by a teacher.  There is something truly amazing about hearing each student explain their process and journey through their work.

“It’s like having an artist explain the canvas. No one else can fill that space. No one else can make the experience powerful. The process itself of selecting the personal work -artifacts – is meaningful. The students can explain why they decided upon each piece. One artifact can describe the greatest lesson learned; another the greatest challenge; another the greatest accomplishment.

“Through these processes and my entire experience at Acton, I am left with a huge lesson that will stay with me my entire life. I am completely convinced it will forever change the way I teach and will definitely influence the way I parent my children. I have come to discover how important it is to train a child to be introspective and self-reflective. The power of children being aware of themselves at such a young age truly enhances learning.”

As Acton parents, we are the recipients of these gifts from our children. Next Friday is Exhibition day. We get to witness our children’s reflections of their learning and engage with them as learners ourselves.

How will you receive your gift?