Year 2 Session 3 (12/16/21)

Hi Aim Families,

What? Writing the weekly roundup a day early?? It must be a Christmas miracle!! I actually just had a lot of thoughts on my mind and figured I'd share a few of them :)

For starters, what an amazing exhibition! It was so fun to see each of you. And even more fun to see your children succeed and put all of their hard-thought and hard-fought plans into place. This has been a very challenging quest, and as will come as no surprise to anyone at this point, everyone rose to the challenge. What started out as just tiny ideas discussed during the first several days of brainstorming around whiteboards, took shape and evolved into something real. In this case, a restaurant. With real food, real customers, real teamwork, and real stakes. 

This quest had so many moving pieces it really stretched everyone in new ways. Compared to the last quest where there were dozens of challenges leading to points and progress which acted as motivation, direction, and guardrails all along the way, this quest simply had the final product to guide the eagles. The ambiguity was a different type than we've dealt with recently, and consequently very tough. Last session it was extremely obvious how to earn the badge. Get enough points. This session? Completely different. What would they cook? How much of the budget would they dare risk on food to practice cooking on? What price would they set for their menu items? Would it be high enough to capture enough of the potential sales at the exhibition? Or should they try for lower prices to capture more customers? What jobs would each house member take? What would the theme be? Who would go shopping at Walmart? Was the taste or the presentation more important? Was cooking ahead of time to make sure customers weren't waiting more important than having the food cooked fresh? The list went on and on...

Not to mention all of this was on top of their other goals, core skills challenges, committee assignments, learning a new skill during PE, rebuilding the tribe with new eagles, writer's workshops and more.

Thus needless to say, the learning has been off the charts. There have been amazing moments all along this journey. Not least of which, perhaps, is the hard lesson that many learned this afternoon from not earning their badge.

This lesson hits home hard tonight as I have spent the longest time this evening holding a crying daughter who is devastated she didn't earn her badge. Contrary to what some of you may question from time to time (lol!) I am not just an unfeeling psychotic educational theorist and purist--taking risks and experimenting with kids from the safety of a lab or ivory tower. This is as real for me as a father of children at the school as it is for you. I feel the pains of the studio's failures just as poignantly as I do its successes. 

But at the end of the day, this is what we signed up for. We signed up for it as parents. And our children signed up for it as learners. I sat in most of your living rooms and looked your children in the eyes and told them how hard this would be. And said the same thing to most of you. But it's one thing to get behind the model on paper, another thing entirely when you're holding a crying child who doesn't know how she's going to come back from this. 

But that's just it, isn't it? We have to teach our kids precisely that they can and will rise from their failures. Anything short of that is doing them a disservice. The world they are going to inherit (and some of them will inherit it shortly...) is unforgiving and downright cruel at times. These eagles need the resilience that comes from tough moments like the ones 1/3 of our tribe is experiencing tonight. If we really want different outcomes than traditional schools, we have to provide different experiences. If we really believe that these children are going to change the world, then we cannot shy away from the moments that will shape and define and prepare them to do it. No matter how painful it may be. 

I'm excited for a day of deep reflection tomorrow. I mentioned this to a parent tonight, but the Friday following our exhibitions have in a lot of ways become the most important day of the whole session. I'm also excited for the break that everyone will get over the next two weeks to recoup and recover for a strenuous first three sessions. However, I know that everyone will be ready for Session 4 when the time comes. Because once you've had a taste of the excitement (as well as the disappointments) and the incredible highs and lows that are part of the hero's journey, I don't think there's any way to be satisfied back in the 'safety' (or boredom) of the ordinary world we've left behind. I'm already excited to begin another adventure in January. Because win or lose, every one of your children has felt the call to adventure, and once you have felt that, there's no going back. 


Lance Stewart

Hi, I'm Lance Stewart.

I'm the founder and Head of School at Aim Academy.

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