An Interview with Kevin Auwater, Founder of Acton Academy Murfreesboro, TN
First of all, for those who may not be familiar, can you share a bit about Acton Academy?
Acton is first and foremost a learner driven community. Learners in an Acton community can expect a high amount of freedom and choice. However, they also experience the real world struggles and work through the problems that can arise in their own free society. A major theme in an Acton Academy is incorporating “real world” learning challenges.
How did you become interested in this educational model?
When our daughter was ready to begin school, we chose to homeschool because we felt it was the best environment for her to learn the way that she wanted to learn. Although she was happy and doing well, I couldn’t escape the feeling that we could be doing more. Something purposeful that we weren’t finding in traditional schools or even homeschools. And above all, a path which encouraged her to dream, explore and become her best self.
Seemingly by chance, I came across Acton Academy. As I dug deeper, all of the missing pieces began to come together. The Hero’s Journey. A learner-driven community. Inspiration, discovery, hands-on projects, virtues and character. All set in a framework to allow every child to find his or her calling that will change the world.
You’ve been implementing the Artisan Curriculum with a small cohort of kids this year. Can you tell us why you chose Artisan?
We chose Artisan for several reasons. One reason was that it aligned so well with the ideas about learning that we have come to value. Freedom and choice – with responsibility. Each Artisan day, our learners need to make their own choices and they directly see how those choices impact what happens. Artisan incorporates that “real world” learning challenge.
What are some defining moments of the Artisan experience thus far?
There have been many! Just last week, our Artisans came up with their own list of promises (rules) they wanted to commit to during their Artisan time. Our youngest Artisan asked, “what happens when we break a promise?” This led to a passionate discussion they had about what they felt the consequences should be and why. They came up with the idea of a ticket (fine) for breaking a promise, and that the money (Artisan currency) would go into a central pot that can then be used to help anyone who is running low on money. They then came up with an approval procedure for anyone who wants to borrow money from that pot. Another thing that has been wonderful to hear is just how much the learners enjoy it. It is consistently rated as the favorite day of the week!
Would you recommend Artisan to other micro school Founders or prospective school Owners? Why or why not?
Without a doubt! We actually started with one boy (11 years old) who was very reluctant at first. He was not “into” art. After a few weeks, he is now choosing to continue working after the scheduled Artisan time is over. I feels like the “real world” element and freedom of choice turned his attitude toward the work in a completely new and positive direction.
If you were to reflect on your personal philosophy about what’s important for young people today, do you think Artisan fit that philosophy in some ways?
I do. I personally think that it’s important for young people to begin to experience and practice these real world themes early in their lives in a safe environment. I also believe strongly in practicing in ways that stimulate and inspire the creativity we all have. Artisan does this beautifully!
If you’d like to learn how Artisan can benefit your school, community center, or home school co-op, click here to learn more and get a free trial!