Hi Aim Families,
"If this challenge is not complete by the assigned deadline, somebody is going home. And if the challenge next week isn't completed on time either, somebody else is going home."
I don't think I have ever said heavier words in all of my time spent at Aim. The silence that fell on the Eagles this morning after the gravity of my words sunk in was palpable. I have never given a challenge or consequence to the school that I have not followed up on so they knew I meant what I said. As I explained that they would actually play a part in deciding who left the tribe through providing feedback about their fellow travelers contributions so far to the Tribe (or lack thereof), serious faces were seen all around the circle--except for a few smiles from the Spark section where there always seem to be at least one or two Eagles completely and delightfully oblivious to the current conversations.
I had texted the Guides Thursday afternoon that I had an idea...but it was a pretty radical idea. However, our Studio was in a precarious situation. We had already gone through many changes this year and it had only been four days. What started as one giant tribe, turned into three mixed-age houses, turned into three mini-studios separated by age, turned into three mixed-age houses again minus the Sparks, and then back to where we started with the entire school being separated into three mixed-age houses including Sparks. Eagle bucks had already been asked for, the Disputes Committee was formed, and a Time Keeper was voted in (after everyone worked straight through a scheduled Brain Break lol). There had been moments of very focused work, and other times had been wasted because of an unclear direction of where to go. There had been moments of real stress and chaos, and there had been moments of real leadership. But something in the Studio still just didn't feel right.
I'm still not entirely sure if I can pinpoint it exactly, but the nearest I can get is that many had not fully committed to the Hero's Journey yet. That to me is the foundation of everything else we do at Aim Academy. If that piece is missing, then anything else, be it the Socratic discussions, hands on learning, self-paced mastery, or real world leadership, will come up short. Two very similar behaviors can be worlds apart if they are coming from an Eagle who has fully committed to the Hero's Journey, and one who hasn't. It takes an immense humility, and a good dose of courage, to really begin a Hero's Journey. It is a fundamentally different approach to learning. An entirely different mindset. WIthout it, freedom becomes freedom to goof off. With it, freedom becomes freedom to prepare yourself for your calling in life. No matter the sacrifice.
The fact of the matter is the lack of everyone approaching the school from the same place was hurting the tribe. And there weren't exactly many signs of it getting better any time soon...
We had a few conversations this week about whether or not Aim is the best fit for everyone here. The Acton network at large has convincingly found that if both the parents, and the eagles, are not 100% committed to the model, it likely is not going to work in the long term. It was in line with this sentiment, and the unbelievable trust that our model places in our young learners, that I presented to our school this morning the consequences of not completing the first week's challenge on time. I can describe what happened next, but you really have to see it for yourself. You can do so here
Our Tribe is not out of the woods yet. There will be many more challenges to come--not to mention greater challengers. And there are still a few lingering questions amongst them about whether or not the Tribe is composed of the perfect makeup yet. But there are also life changing moments ahead too. And the lessons the Eagles learned this week will help them immensely as they tackle the upcoming challenges. At this point, I would encourage each of you to take the challenge of reading Courage to Grow if you haven't already. In case you didn't realize it yet, you are going to be as much of a part of the Hero's Journey your children go on as they are :)
To think about a school that would actually dare to trust its learners with the fate of a fellow traveler is a radical thing indeed...