Thank you, Trailblazing Parents

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“Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

— Steve Jobs, 1997

https://fs.blog/2016/03/steve-jobs-crazy-ones/

This is one of my favorite quotes by Steve Jobs. I know that it’s a spin-off from Jack Kerouac’s reference to the “mad ones” in his book On The Road, and I know that both Jack and Steve where known to be a little bit crazy themselves. But, I would challenge you to consider that both the beatnik and the CEO did change the world. And, so are every single one of my founding families at Acton Imprimis Salado. The impact that you are going to have on Central Texas is so much greater than you will likely ever know, and I am so inspired by you and humbled that you are willing to embark on this Hero Journey with me.

A Cliff Note of What Acton Imprimis Salado Is: For those of you who don’t know what Acton Imprimis Salado (An Acton Academy) is all about: Let me explain what these amazing families are helping me do. Each family is entrusting Acton’s world-renown and fully accredited pedagogy in creating heroes for this broken and fallen world. Each student embarks upon a Hero’s Journey where he/she not only undergoes strategic mastery in academic learning (anything below a 95% is considered failing), but he/she is also required to earn character building badges proving their comprehension and ability to display such traits as intrinsic  motivation, leadership, responsibility, resilience, knowing how to give and take constructive criticism, being a good friend, facing your greatest fear, etc…

Furthermore, the students develop a great appreciation for  personal responsibily, accountability, time-management, goal setting, and how to embrace failure without defining oneself as a failure…even as young as our PreK studio. This education is no joke and it takes a lot of grit and determination to endure it. Furthermore, this journey is no joke for the parents either. Not all parents are able to watch their child fail, get back up, fail again, and try again.

We are interrupting the educational system in Central Texas by educating the person, not the class.  The mainstream method of learning is to give a group of students an X amount of time to learn XYZ.  When the alotted amount of time is up (hours to weeks) the students are tested over what they were able to learn during that timeframe, and then the class moves onto the next topic of material.  Hopefully, most students will pass their tests within the alloted timeframe of instruction. This is not how Acton Imprimis Salado educates.

Simply put, we wait to promote a student until he/she is at 95% comprehension, thus reaching our definition of mastery learning, and then he/she is promoted to the next level of academics. We take the “alloted time” factor out of the equation completely. We focus solely on Mastery learning at the individual student’s pace. To understand this deeper, please watch this 10 minute video by Sal Kahn https://youtu.be/-MTRxRO5SRA

Our students are actually heroes in training. Therefore, we acknowledge them as heroes and call them such. They have to go through the process of academic mastery, earn their character badges, display self-regulatory skills, earn their freedom levels by displaying responsibilty, and master all their hands-on quests before they are allowed to move into a higher leveled academic studio.  They are also equipped to discover their God-given gifts, find their individual callings, and launch out into the world as game changers and world changers. I am serious about this fact. Our heroes change the world.

The Hero’s Journey in a Nutshell: The hero’s journey is all over children’s books, Marvel movies, and even the Bible. The unlikely ordinary person rises to the occasion to stand against opposition, face his/her greatest fears, and comes out stronger after facing such fears. Mastery academics and character badges helped them dig deep into themselves to outsmart those who come against them, endure the pressures of resistance, and maintain the appropriate level of grit to accomplish their goals and dreams with successfully.

We all know that this is a harsh world that we live in. It takes a lot more than just knowing how to pass a test to succeed and social pretenses can only get you so far.  Our children deserve more than what most schools provide them. Each child needs to know that they are unique and were not made to be like everyone else. It is ok to be your authentic self and not have to dress or behave like everyone else. Each child has a unique fingerprint, personality, and dream. It is ok to dream to be an engineer, a teacher, a professor, a medical doctor, attorney, a CEO, and such.  Yet, it’s also just as great to dream to become an actress, actor, entrepreneaur, dancer, artist, etc… It’s ok for children to discover who God created them to be instead of how to survive wtihin the educational box.

Children need to learn how to think critically without being cynical. They need to know the fine line between bravery and stupidity. They should be able to be able to make a judgement call without being judgemental. They need to seek to understand their opponent before blasting that they’re a victim due to being offended.  They should be able to recognize the differences between bosses and leaders. And, most importantly, they should be given those twelve or so (give or take) years of schooling to discover who they are instead of being told who to be and what to think. Children have the courage to grow and we provide a safe environment for them to do so.

Does the Acton method of unschooling work?  Yes! All over the world our graduates are being accepted into the colleges of their choice, some are graduating with already established LLCs, and one just got accepted into nine different law schools. It works. And, we are so excited to be the trailblazers that get to bring this incredible academy to Bell County.

The parents of the Acton Imprimis Salado heroes are a great trailblazing tribe within their own right. I’ve been asked if the parents who sign-up their children are weird. The founding families we have are amazing. We have multiple entrepreneurs, medical doctors, retired military brass, FBI agents, psychotherapists, professors, and other like-minded parents. These are really amazing people from all over Bell and Williamson Counties. People who look at their children and realize that the mainstream method of teaching (i.e. sitting behind a desk and being lectured) just isn’t what is right for their kids. We’re not actively anti-tradition. We are just passionate about an unschooling education. Especially, since it’s being taken place at an already pre-established world-renown and fully accredited place.

It takes a lot of courage to watch your child grow.  It’s easy to talk about how you want your child to develop resilience. It’s hard to actually watch your child struggle through the process of developing that character trait. It’s easy to say that you’re ok with your child failing at something he/she loves, but it’s hard to endure the process of watching their tears fall down their face. It takes a lot of grit, a lot of heart, and a lot of strength to embrace a parental hero journey that accompanies your child’s launch of one. Most parents want to protect their children moreso than we want to prepare our children. It’s hard to not be liked by your child, but you know it’s what is best for them. Being an Acton Imprimis Salado parent is no joke, it’s a challenge, it has its ups and downs, but those who embrace, fight through, and finish this journey will only come out stronger. Acton Imprimis Salado unites families.

Parents, thank you, for having the Courage to embrace this Hero’s Journey of launching Acton Imprimis Salado with me. Your children are our founding heroes. They are setting the foundation for hundreds to thousands of children to flourish in this academy long after they are out changing the world. You will be recognized as one of the trailblazing families that helped the vision turn into a  reality for Central Texas children for years to come. Each of you are amazing and I”m so grateful for every one of you. Together, we are disrupting education and bringing hope to children in this area. Together, we are creating the premier academy for gifted, talented, and creative children. Together, we are unstoppable.

Here’s to all of us! Or shall I say, Here’s to us crazy ones! You are inspiring and amazing!

 

Unschooling in Salado, TX

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I remember thinking, “God, are You sure? Are You sure that I should open an Acton Academy in Salado instead of Georgetown? Really?”  as I walked down the beach in Pismo Beach, California last Spring. The location didn’t make much sense to me back then. I knew that the Georgetown/Austin area was hungry for more Acton academies, that my friend, Kristina, had opened one up in Waco (which is doing fantastic), and I really wanted to open mine closer to Austin. However, I knew that I heard God speak to me that Salado would be the place. Apparently, He definitely knew what I was about to find out.

There are a lot of self-motivated children who are ready for the real world challenges that Acton Imprimis (An Acton Academy) has to offer in Central Texas. They are excited about the idea of having to master 95% of each subject before moving forward academically, thus they are really learning in depth. And, they LOVE that we have absolutely NO HOMEWORK EVER. 

They are excited about being freed from the idea of grade levels and are no longer held back by their age in any given subject. Thus, a second grader can now take sixth grade math (or higher) while going through reading, writing, spelling, etc…at a second grader’s pace. (This is our Learn to Learn)

They love the idea of core skills being taught in the mornings with afternoons being centered around actually doing things hands-on in our quests. (This is what we call our ‘Learning to Do’)

Recess is offered four times a day (just like in the 80s) where you can run and play before school, mid-morning, after lunch, and mid-afternoon.

Our kids start mentoring in our elementary studio and apprenticeships in our middle school studio and launchpad (High school). 

We have a very entrepreneurial based curriculum that enables our heroes (students) to obtain an Limited Liability Company (LLC) in their name (if they choose to, no pressure) by the time they graduate from Launchpad. And, we host a Children’s Business Fair where children sell the products that they personally designed within their personal companies (starting in Kindergarten).

Almost all of the heroes that are coming to our campus in Salado are from families that love to travel, so the parents are thrilled that there’s no attendance requirement and the kids can travel with their parents as much or little as they’d like to during the school year.  (Experiences while traveling trump classrooms, in my humble opinion…research backs that thought too).

And, most importantly, they love that we have a very rich curriculum and are highly invested in helping children “Learn to Be.” We help children discover their God-given gifts, talents, and enable them to practice those gifts. We give children passion projects where they can choose what they would like to study (from elementary up) and present their discoveries to their studio tribes. We expect them to learn how to give and receive criticism, to be kind and get work done simultaneously, to never give up, find their inner strengths, motivations, drive and build resilience and grit from those places. Our desire is to make sure that they embrace failure, instead of fearing it, because they can still learn and grow from their failures (no snowflake mentalities), and they can thrive in this world instead of survive in this world. This is why we say so confidently that when you come to Acton Imprimis Salado, you will:

Launch your Hero’s Journey. Discover Your Calling. Get Equipped to Change the World. 

It’s time for us to teach our children how to thrive in this world whether or not they choose to go to college. Some children will choose college and do exceptionally well due to their academic preparedness provided for at Acton Imprimis. Some children will become entrepreneurs and brighten our economy and other people’s lives with jobs and resources. Some children will become artists and move us with their creative brilliance. No matter what God has in store for them, they will be prepared to run the race that’s set before them. And, they will do it in style. 

#ActonImprimisSalado #FindYourCalling #ChangeTheWorld

 

 

 

Greatness

 

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How do you define Greatness?

Some people define greatness as the number of trophies on their shelves.  Some people define greatness by digging into history books. Others define greatness as how quickly they climb the ladder of promotions or accomplishments at work. Others define greatness as popularity or fame. There are numerous definitions of greatness that float around our human minds. Yet, I am not asking you how others define greatness. I’m asking you. How do you define greatness? Have you ever really took some time to think about this? Have you really?  If so, that is fantastic! If not, maybe, if you are like me, it would be wise to consider this concept today. As parents, we can have a huge impact on our children’s future and how (or, if)  they will define, strive for, and achieve greatness in their lives.

To unite our unique definitions, I can confidently state that the vast majority of mankind will agree that throughout history and into our present time, nobody has ever achieved greatness within their comfort zone.  Nobody. Let that sink in for a bit. What does that mean in regard to you, me, and our children? It means, we have to get used to the idea, the reality, and the process of getting through our “uncomfortable” zone….successfully. Sure, it’s easy to think about, but how likely are you to endure? The further into your uncomfortable zone you get, the more stressed, anxious, and anything but chill. Will you display it? Maybe. Maybe not. A lot of that has to do with whether or not you live with a fixed or growth mindset.

The growth mindset will aid you in “training” yourself for greatness. Greatness is an honorable title to be given. It’s not something that you “try” to do. You won’t achieve greatness by just “trying.” This is something that you will likely fail forward toward multiple times. Persistence, resilience, grit, and the ability to push through the nay-slayers and haters is required to achieve a great status. Greatness is something you train for. It is. Don’t believe me? Check out 1 Corinthians 9:24-25.  Paul speaks of “strict training” to be rewarded the “crown that lasts forever.” Check it out.

Endurance is another obvious requirement to achieve greatness. Without endurance, you will toss in the towel before you have a chance to really wipe off your face. It’s crucial. Endurance requires resiliency, grit, and a lot of intrinsic motivation to fuel it. Everyone has intrinsic motivation hardwired into them, but not everyone finds their unique on/off switch for it. Why? Because, our passion is what flips the switch, and many people have no idea what they are deeply, truly passionate about. They know what others stand for and join forces, but what is it that they personally truly care about? What where they born to do? What where you born to do? What’s in your spiritual DNA? What’s your personal calling?

“…and let us run with endurance the race that was set before us,” – Hebrews 12:1 

God set a unique race before you. Holistically speaking, you have the spiritual, mental, and physical capabilities that God personally crafted for you to achieve the race that He set before you! Your race isn’t mine and my race isn’t yours. We have different callings, different talents, and different gifts. Our differences are what what make us beautiful to each other and make us powerful together. For example, what attracts me to my husband isn’t our similarities but our differences. His strengths are not mine, thus I find his strength in various areas very comforting and even sexy.  Music is powerful and is a universal language. It uses various harmonies to communicate a message to us and honestly doesn’t even need words (lyrics) to move us emotionally. Harmony is nonexistent without a diverse number of keys. Harmony is not conformity but diversity in sync. Likewise, a harmonious marriage or really any relationship be it friendship or business.  I think many of us have forgotten this reality.

As the Head of School at Acton Academy Salado, I am determined to instill into my own children and their peers the notion that they were born to be heroes and heroes are great. What does this mean? This means that they will be continually trained for greatness. They will be pushed out of their comfort zones to expand their potential. They will become truly confident by earning true confidence. Not the social media type of  keyboard confidence, but the quiet and powerful confidence that comes from the personal experience of facing adversity head-on, enduring it, conquering it, and becoming intrinsically stronger and more resilient.

My children and their peers will learn to fail forward, discover their unique gifts/talents, find their personal callings, and embrace the fact that they were born to change the world. These heroes will persistently strive for excellence while living harmoniously within their social settings. They will not succumb to peer pressure or live to please others. They will reflect the masterpieces that God created them to be instead of being a mosaic of what everyone else’s opinions and thoughts of them are. (Parents who try to live through their children will not survive at Acton Academy Salado). Acton Academy Salado heroes will be equipped with a growth mindset, resilient persistence, passionate intrinsic motivation, endurance, and every other character trait needed to enable them to achieve mastery and greatness with every step of their calling.

Would you rather try to be great or train to be great? What do you want for your children? What do you want for yourself?

Again, I ask you, “How do you define greatness?”

 

 

 

 

 

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Mastery

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mas·ter·y

noun
1. comprehensive knowledge or skill in a subject or accomplishment.

Acton Academy Salado believes in Mastery.  In fact, we believe in it so much that our eagles cannot move forward until they have mastered a subject. We agree with Sal Kahn (yes, Kahn Academy Founder) that children need to master subjects in order to really comprehend future subjects. In his ten-minute Ted Talk, “Let’s Teach for Mastery, not Test Scores” Sal addresses the absurdity of not teaching for mastery in comparison to a building a house.

In many educational institutions, due to time constraints and the pressure of standardized testing, many students may only grasp 70 to 80% of a particular subject before they are forced to move forward with the rest of their class and study material that builds upon the very 20 to 30% of the material they still do not understand.  Since  making a C or B is considered passing, schools feel it is appropriate to promote that student to the next level of material.  But, what if we built a house that way?  What if only 80% of your foundation got poured?  Would you allow the contractors to start building out your entire first floor?  What about if only 80% of the first floor got finished? Would you allow the constructors to build a second floor since they technically passed the first floor with a B? Of course not! Common sense tells us that the foundation is one of the most, if not the most, important aspects of home building. Why? Because everything else is built upon it. So, back to our student analogy, well, actually reality. This student will eventually get to a “floor” in their academic progress that becomes too stressful and unstable for them intellectually. Why? Because, they are still lacking the previous foundation’s or floor’s  information and comprehension. Thus, due to a lack of mastery, this student will now hit a level of frustration and possibly even quit due to a lack of foundational preparation. Frustration that is completely preventable.

So, why does this happen? Personally, I think that it’s a stronghold in our educational system that is failing students. The idea that “just passing” is “good enough” is leading our youth down an educational journey of frustration. Also, teachers would have to teach for mastery. This means, every student would have to master each subject prior to moving forward. Potentially, that could require a teacher to teach to a class of 18 students 18 different ways, because they are all moving at a unique pace. Is this impossible? Absolutely not. Has it been done before? Yes. Did it work? Amazingly well! Why aren’t all schools doing it now?  Well, because the schools still feel like 70% is passing.

One thing I love about Acton Academies (mine included) is that we are determined to allow our eagles to MASTER subjects. Each child has a unique set of SMART goals they set and reach each week. Every child is given the time they need to master their material before moving forward. And, every child is given the opportunity to move forward without having to wait on his/her peers to finish learning a subject matter. (Great for those intellectually gifted heroes).

Every eagle that enters our studios is embracing his/her Hero’s Journey and mastery is a huge part of that journey. Not only do our eagles master the material intellectually, they also get multiple opportunities to engage in quests and actually perform what they are learning. Thus, they not only read about it, they actually get out there and do it. Rote memorization will never work at Acton Academy Salado.

Mastery is a life-long characteristic that only enhances the lives of those who embrace it. Yes, it takes effort to master something, but isn’t it worth it? Life is so much more fulfilling when you are reaching past your potential. Learning is so much more fun when it is challenging.  Mastery can help build confidence in an individual that lasts a lifetime. Mastery is hard work. Mastery takes determination. Mastery is worth the effort. Children should always be given an opportunity to master things.Mastery becomes a lifestyle to help us achieve those things that mean a lot to us. Mastery keeps us laser focused and able to overcome obstacles that try to hinder our progress of reaching our goals. Achieving a Mastery mindset separates those of us who embrace a Hero’s Journey from those who never learn to fly.

Mastery.

It’s a decision.

It’s a lifestyle.

It’s inspired into every eagle at Acton Academy Salado.

Here’s a link to Sal’s Ted Talk that’s definitely worth checking out: https://www.ted.com/talks/sal_khan_let_s_teach_for_mastery_not_test_scores?language=en

 

 

 

 

Trust the Children

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“Trust the children.”

“Dr. Thompson, make sure they trust the children.”

“Suzy, trust the children.”

“Mommy, do you trust me?”

From an educational psychologist’s perspective, I know without a reasonable doubt that children can be trusted to learn. They are hard-wired to learn, to be curious, to make sense of their worlds, and are so much more resilient to failure they most adults realize. Children are ready to explore, excited to try something new, and embrace opportunities to grow. This God-given curiosity resides in every child, until we fear it out of them.

“Don’t touch that! It’s breakable! You could get hurt! Let me do that for you. You’re not old enough. You’re not ready to learn that. You’re not……capable.” 

Why do we parent our children by telling them what they are not capable of?  Because, we are being selfish. We are afraid of watching them fail. It hurts our hearts more than it hurts theirs. Children don’t realize that failure is a “bad thing” until we teach them that. Have you ever thought about that fact?  And, in reality, is failure actually bad?  Don’t we learn most when we fail? Isn’t failure just another opportunity to grow?

What if, instead of telling the kids what they can’t do, we tell the kids what they can do?  What if we threw-out the plastic kid plates and let them use our pottery?  What if we trusted them to carry something breakable? What if we encouraged them to try instead of being afraid of trying? What if we even encouraged them to fail?  What if we encouraged them to feel failure and then learn how to dust themselves off, and fail forward by trying again and again until they succeed? What would happen then?

Well, other then a possible handful of messes you may have to clean up, our kids would feel real confidence.  Their childlike faith, wonder, and curiosity would stay ignited and thrive. They would learn to default to failing forward instead of failing and giving up on their dreams. Our children would embrace mental, emotional, and physical challenges and learn how to scale the brick walls in life that try to halt our progress toward lifetime goals. We would be parenting our children toward grit, perseverance, resiliency, and confidence that cannot be taught any other way then personal experience. We would be calling out the Masterpieces and heroes in our children.

We may even learn how to get out from behind the “shield of fear” that we may be carrying around regarding failure.  Maybe we will begin to care more about what God thinks about us using or not using the gifts He gave us more than what our peers think about our gifts.  Maybe we will even begin to embrace our own callings and have the courage to become heroes ourselves.

I don’t want to rear-up a snowflake kid. I want to rear-up children that inspire the snowflake kids to kick fear in the rear and find their inner strength to become resilient themselves.  I want my children to flourish. I want my children to look fear in the eye and laugh at it. I want my children’s identity in Christ to be strong, their failures to catapult them into a deeper passion for success,  and for them to feel confident. Not an arrogant confidence, but the deep seated quiet confidence that can only come from personal experience and the Holy Spirit.

So, I’m all in. I’m going to live the Acton Academy Salado lifestyle at school and at home. Trusting the children.  With a deep breath and a big sigh, I’m in. It works. I’m no longer going to be selfish and not want to see my children hurt. I want to see my children succeed, and I want my children to be leaders and successes in life in every arena life offers to them. I want my children to only know how to fail forward.   

**Please set good guardrails for your children if you choose to join this child-enriching movement. For example, I will let my children help me cook, use our dishes, and do a number of things. But, they are still very small, so no electricity or fire or driving my car….at least, not this year. #Actonacademysalado  #TrustTheChildren #EquippingHeroes

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The Artist’s Studio

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stu·di·o

/ˈst(y)o͞odēˌō/

noun

1. A room where an artist, photographer, sculptor, etc., works 
Synonyms include: workshop, workroom, atelier, work space 
Example: “The artist’s studio.” 

I love the symbolism that accompanies the fact that Acton Academy Salado has replaced classrooms with studios! –Excited Parent 

The studios are 1200 square foot spaces inside of Acton Academy Salado were the children (the acton eagles) are entrusted and empowered to lead.  They are taught to hold these spaces sacred, thus they create their covenants and contracts there with each other, with their guides, and with the studio itself. They are to keep their studios sacred, and this is a serious quest in itself. This is their work space.  This is there “home away from home” while they are being equipped for their heroes journeys intellectually, socially, emotionally, and even physically. Inside their studios, they will study, learn, achieve, fail, find their motivation, develop grit, acquire resilience, face their fears, and find fellow travelers to help them beat the Goliaths on their individual journeys.  Within the walls of their studios, they will host town hall meetings, Socratic discussions, quests, and exhibitions for their parents and friends.  And, at the end of the day, together, they maintain their studios. They clean, care for their plants, care for their fish (once they earn a fish tank), and care for each other.

Each studio hosts a different age/educational bracket within that studio and the eagles earn their way from one studio to the next. Once an eagle completes all their required work within one studio, he/she is promoted and celebrated into the next one. They do not have to wait a year to be promoted or are required to socially promote with their same aged peers. They have earned their reward of being promoted, and we celebrate them immediately!

Each studio is filled with a variety of work spaces.  They have a mini dance floor to practice their dance moves on or wiggle if they need to without distracting their peers.  They have a library with bean bags or air chairs where they can read.  They have their tribal squads where their personal desks are located. These areas are where they can keep their belongings and work on their daily and weekly goals and tasks. They have a refrigerator and tables set-up where they can go eat when they get hungry for lunch or a snack.  Each studio is equipped with a television set for their mini-launches and Socratic discussions throughout their workday  and various colored lights that indicate the productivity of the room/atmosphere. The studios have windows, plants, and (once earned) a fish tank.  No shoes are worn in the studios. Thus, there’s a space for their shoes just inside the doorway. Since we host about three activities outside a day (two of them being recesses), it’s important that we keep our studios free of excess dirt/allergies. The studios also have a place where the children can create artistically. Paint, draw, doodle, sing, perform etc…Children are artists, we allow them to create.

Most importantly, each studio is sacred because Jesus is in them.  He is the ultimate Artist. Our Alpha and Omega and the Author of our lives. Within these studios, He is equipping Heroes to find their God-given callings. He is building character into the lives of His children. He is inspiring them to believe in themselves, in His love for them, and reach beyond their potential as they develop each year. Within these studios the children of God are being empowered to love people and change the world, because this is The Artist’s Studio.

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome to Warfare

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In six weeks or less, I knew which students were home schooled in my college courses. I never had to ask who they were, because these students did the most impressive work on their first assignment and all tests. They were self-motivated, respectful, diligent, independent learners, and had a strong sense of direction in their lives. They were socially adept and everyone really liked them, even the younger ones who were only fourteen or fifteen years old. These students were always fun to teach, because they were so mature and had so much more life experience and sense of identity then their older peers. Their questions were impressive, and their ability to think critically was impressive. Plus, I never saw a single one of them succumb to the negative influences and pressures that, unfortunately, thrive on college campuses.

I have colleagues who spoon feed their self-serving agendas and worldly identities to unsuspecting college students.  Instead of teaching the curriculum objectively, they used their professorship position to instill their personal philosophies and theologies into curious minds.  The goal was to have their students think like themselves, instead of teaching the students to think for themselves.

The college campus, even the religious ones, are the front lines of the clash of two worlds. It’s the front lines of spiritual warfare. Seriously. When we all know that the battle is in the mind, the college campus makes perfect sense. There is a surplus of passionate youth ready to change the world and wanting to learn what their professors have to teach them. Yet, what they don’t see with their acceptance letters and over the campus is the great big invisible sign that says:

“Welcome to Warfare.”

I honestly believe that it takes much more than just intellect to make it through college. There are a variety of character traits and abilities that are needed to achieve success unscathed. So, what do our kids need these days to succeed once out from under our roofs?  What is it that homes schooling families know that makes their children shine in college life?

They know that children need the academics, ample experiences, travel, hands-on opportunities, and to not be stuck behind a desk all day. Children need to wiggle while they work. They need to have mentors, apprenticeships, and the ability to find pleasure and earned value in their accomplishments. They need to learn at their own pace, dig deep, understand instead of memorize, and master concepts instead of grasping them enough for a passing grade. Children need to have fun while learning without the fear of “not fitting in” or being bullied. Children need parents who have the courage to let them fail so that they can learn how to pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and grow resilient.

They need to be taught how to learn, how to do, and how to be. Seriously. Let’s break this down a bit together. Students need to learn how to think, how they best learn, and how to use Wisdom to filter through all the information (true and false) that will be thrown in their face daily. Today’s youth need to know how to think critically without becoming critical. They need to know how to face adversity without being disrespectful. They need to know when a hero submits to authority and when he/she needs to stand for Truth in spite of their authority’s position. To do this, they need a strong identity and confidence in their gifts, talents, and other abilities prior to stepping foot on a collegiate campus. And, they need a strong faith to keep them from crumbling under the weight of anxiety.

Our youth need to know how to do things beyond googling it. They need to know how to read a map and do math without a calculator. They need hands-on experience building, creating, and transforming what they learn in theory into tangible realities. They need to never be reliant on the internet or on having a signal. Technology enhances their lives, it doesn’t rule over their lives. They need to know how to pick up a book and read it, stay focused, write legibly, and have an innate desire to do more things instead of passing the buck to whoever is willing to do it for them instead. They need to be able to balance a checkbook, think like an entrepreneur, take calculated risks, and know how to keep oneself motivated so success and accomplishments are not trivial, but worth celebrating. They need time management and self-management skills, so that they don’t fall into the trap of “lying to their professors or employers” and becoming manipulative to cover their lack of self-control.

Today’s students need to know how to be. This means that they need to have a STRONG identity. They need to know their callings, their passions, their likes and dislikes, weaknesses and strengths, and they need to be resilient in the face of adversity. They need grit to make it into the category of positive world changers and Heroes in life. They need the ability to swim with the sharks without getting bit. They need opportunities to fail, so they can acquire grit. They also need the ability to get along with different personality types, work on teams, work independently, and stand for Truth without coming across offensive to others. Thus, they need a strong sense of humility…even among all their accomplishments.

All these characteristics, plus so many more, are put to use at Acton Academy Salado. We unschool children so we can best educate them. We believe in Heroes. We believe in family. We believe in God. We even believe in homeschooling your kiddos or taking them to a Montessori school until they are self-motivated enough to take on the challenges of our studios. We believe that the one-room schoolhouse can still produce Tomas Edisons, Albert Einsteins, and Wright Brothers Today just like it did years ago. We believe in children, and we believe they are destined to be our heroes. Our world needs them. Let’s unschool them together, so they can thrive in college life. Let’s equip them to change the world for Good.