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Ambiguity as Teacher – Part 2: A Story with an Ending We Need to Hear

Ambiguity as Teacher – Part 2: A Story with an Ending We Need to Hear

Laura Sandefer

November 28, 2018

Sharing stories from the global network of Acton Academy may be the most powerful thing I can do to support parents on this journey. There is healing for us all in the stories we share.

Here is one for you to remember on those gut wrenching days when your child faces ambiguity, failure, and emotional distress. The story is shared by Shannon Baldwin, owner/head of school at Acton Academy Albuquerque:

This Session, our middle school studio went through the Personal Finance Quest and Genre. We have only one girl in this studio and she found it extremely challenging. She is a high anxiety, perfectionist personality, and had no background knowledge about finance at all (which her studio mates did) and so felt behind out of the gate.

More than once, she was in tears and ready to give up, but continued to push ahead. She was not able to finish the quest in time to have a presentation for the Exhibition which pushed her into all out panic mode.

Her studio mates (and I during some private mentoring time) encouraged her to take the step of presenting the story of her struggle and failure as a gift to her Studio, the parents, and herself.

With much trepidation, she did, and has granted permission to  share that presentation with you as an encouragement to any Eagles who may face a similar struggle.

During the Session reflection time, it became clear that taking this step was a HUGE deal in her Hero’s Journey – the visceral realization that honest failure is a part of the journey, that the world will not crumble when it happens, and that you will still be accepted for who you are.

These are the moments.

How very brave and loving! This story is profound in its message about what is necessary for humans to become whole: the ritual of returning, the ceremonial welcoming back of a hero from a traumatic experience.

One of our Acton’s parents, Erin Martin, serendipitously emailed me this week saying: An interesting article that once again shows how the Hero’s Journey, and communal myths, rituals (and I would argue, guardrails) work to fight the ‘spiritual void’. The description of helping vets re-frame and overcome PTSD is eerily similar to helping our Eagles overcome their fears that they aren’t good enough to recover from failure.

What we are doing together is far beyond “education” or “school.” This is a moral and spiritual path of healing. Without ambiguity, we’d not have the opportunity to kick back enough of the darkness – our fears, our perfectionism, our need to control – to see the light within.

Thank you Erin and Shannon for sharing.

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Centered

Laura Sandefer

November 14, 2018

Imagine this:

A group of teenagers walking into school early to hang out together. Hear the noise arising from the group: it’s loud. So much talking and laughing. Quite the opposite of the grating silence of humans staring at their phones. Now, picture the clock on the wall. It says “8:29” in red lights. As the teenagers glance up at it, they move together toward a circle of black chairs on the other side of the room. At the strike of 8:30, all are seated and the noise drizzles into a stream of quiet. One teenager takes the lead and asks everyone to write down what they are grateful for on the slips of paper he put out on their chairs. He then asks them to share their personal list. There is no adult giving instructions or even sitting in the circle. These teenagers are alone in their own world. Creating their own place and space – choosing to center themselves in gratitude before their day of intense work.

An impossible vision of what school can be?

Not at all.

This is what I just witnessed in our Launchpad less than an hour ago. They didn’t know I was watching. I was a distant fly on the wall replying to emails.

As we move into the week when it’s popular and expected to focus on being grateful, our Eagles are living it out every week – without a dressed turkey to trigger an emotion.

This is authentic centeredness and it is at the core of the Acton Launchpad experience.

I am moved to be more like these Eagles. Center first. Then get to work. And don’t forget the laughter.

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