Surprising Truth #4

Surprising Truth #4: At Acton Academy, curiosity is more important than knowledge.

May I be so bold? Let’s be very honest here. Do we really want our children to be deeply curious more than we want them to score well on tests?

Truth be told, I absolutely want my boys to score well on the SAT 10 they’ll take in June. I will be dismayed if they do not reach a new grade level from the last time they took the infamous “bubble test.”

As our customer, isn’t this an expectation of yours as well? “Your child will progress one grade level each year they attend Acton Academy.”  While we know that this must be accomplished and is the minimum job requirement of our teachers, is this what you really want from us? Would you pay us for that?

Let us look again at what we promise to you. We promise you and your child will:

  • Begin a Hero’s Journey;
  • Learn to be curious and love life-long learning;
  • Discover your most precious gifts, along with the dedication it takes to develop real talent;
  • Understand the importance of a strong character;
  • Cherish the arts, the wonders of the physical world and the mystery of life;
  • Treasure economic, political and religious freedom.

At Acton, we understand that knowledge is important and valued. But knowledge can’t unravel the mysteries of life; and this is where we take the leap off the traditional educational path. We know that high test scores and degrees won’t change the world. Nor will they touch the depths of a soul. But deep curiosity will. The following short video hits home to me on this point:

While knowledge feels to me like a wonderfully attained goal; curiosity screams, “more, more, more!” The most intellectual people I know are those who never imagine they know it all. In fact, the more they know, the more they know they don’t know. Being with them is pure fun for me because everything is open for new discovery. They ask wonderful questions and listen deeply to new thoughts. They make me feel like a child again. Wide eyed and open to stumbling upon something exciting at every turn.

At Acton we practice the beauty of saying, “I don’t know.” And, “Great question. I know you’ll have fun figuring that out.” And, “Oh, please teach me about that when you find the answer.”

This practice is exciting to do at home, too.  Research things together.  Tell your children your biggest questions about life and the world. Let them see you wondering. Not only will you be very fun to be around, you’ll experience the thrill of exploring ideas with your child. This is more than the making of memories. It is the building of dreams.

So, bring on the tests. They are a necessary part of life and I’ll accept the outcomes. But don’t squelch my curiosity or my child’s. Curiosity makes the pretensions of “being smart” fall away. It opens up the world as a place of wonder and intrigue. When we are curious, we become people who are truly free. And then, we can change the world. We promise this to you.

Food for thought: Can one learn curiosity or are we born with it? Bill Gates has some thoughts:

Stay tuned for Suprising truth #5 which will unveil the “screen time” reality at Acton Academy.