In the beloved classic To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, wise Atticus Finch said, "You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view […] until you climb into his skin and walk around in it."
Boy, have your children been walking around in a plethora of skins throughout the fantasy land of Devonshire this Renaissance Quest!
As I'm sure all of you are fully aware at this point, the school miraculously transforms into a faraway land every afternoon. The sons and daughters that each of you send to school utterly disappear and are entirely forgotten. In their place come an army of peasants working to become knights, artists, scientist, tradesmen--each belonging to a distinctly special kingdom, each with a completely original and unique backstory, each with different strengths and weaknesses than the children you know.
The adventure that ensues is pure magic. Immediately at the sound of a gong, the inhabitants of Devonshire set about co-creating a new shared experience together, while simultaneously discovering new things about their new fellow travelers, and more interestingly, themselves.
Beyond the fun factor that I believe the eagles would rate a 10/10... beyond the unbelievable moments of drama, tension, hilarious conversation, suspense, mystery, conflict, hard work... beyond the very obvious learning and growth in areas such as creativity, imagination, performing and acting, fictional character development, expressive writing, pushing through new experiences, and problem solving... beyond the important lessons from history and other takeaways the eagles are getting from the Renaissance time period... there lies a whole new world of experience and learning that has honestly surprised, surpassed and delighted the guides.
Our eagles are learning to think beyond their own points of view and consider multiple perspectives on both new and familiar topics through playing different roles. They are learning how to consider life from other viewpoints, adding layers of complexity and new dimensions to their thinking on many themes already materializing in the quest (right vs wrong, rich vs poor, revenge vs justice, life and death and power to name a few). As your eagles walk the paths they tread in Devonshire they are seeing how the world looks from a new point of view. This in turn challenges them to learn new ways of communicating, persevering, and approaching life with confidence.
Paradoxically, as amazing as some of the performances have been, the focus is not on creating a performance for others at all! (for that...see the talent show the eagles planned and put on themselves Friday--side note, how cool is it that they have such a safe space to experiment and master their individual gifts??!) The focus is rather to create an experience for themselves by working through some of the most creative riddles and challenges I have ever seen (WOW Ms Serena!! Seriously!) that are going to ramp up each week from here on out until an epic climax of the story culminating in an unprecedented final showdown in week 6-- all while making important discoveries about themselves and others along the way. If that's not enough to hook you in...I'm not sure what is. I am legitimately as anxious and excited to see how the various plots unfold over the remaining three weeks as I am about any book or television series I am currently invested in...except maybe old Office re-runs. JK
The quests from Aim's 'Experiencing History Series' are sure setting the bar high...
Yet meanwhile, something even more important is happening at the school that I imagine you have heard less about--Aim's equivalent of the US Constitutional Convention. The eagles are in a fierce fight for the soul of the school. I believe all eagles are sincere and well-intentioned in their convictions, but nevertheless, there are some strong disagreements about the best way to self-govern as an free tribe of independent learners--naturally the applicable lessons about living in a civil society are through the roof.
Some of the most passionate arguments of the whole school year have been made during the daily debates (and subsequent experiments the eagles try out) taking place during this time. There are equal parts passion and logic being deployed from opposing sides of each debate. Tears have already been shed. Breaking points have already been reached. Discussions have already been stormed out of...only to be resumed again after the departing eagles were retrieved. New muscles are being exercised in leading discussions, delegating, compromising, stepping up, and stepping back. Several days the eagles have voted to give up their free time for a 'working lunch' to continue the conversation!
If I had to boil down the argument into one question, it would be, "What will you do with the freedoms you have been given?" A question that is no new concept to our returning eagles...yet, it may prove to be the question that defines our little tribe. But our eagles are strong. And they are proving they are willing to fight for what they believe in. I have complete confidence in them.
Add to all of this some intense kickball games during PE, more than enough delight from the Sparks to go around, new writers workshops about anecdotes from the eagles' quest characters, a brand new math experience currently called Brainery Bits? (somebody better fact check me on that lol), several thought provoking Socratic discussions on topics ranging from love to extraordinary vs ordinary to King Henry VIII, not to mention deepening friendships and new friendships...wow... I really can't write the hundredth part of our journey and its only been three short weeks.
The first words out of my mouth on the first launch on the first day of school have proven to be a prescient prologue to our new and promising path...
"Well....here we go!"