We recognize that families have a wide range of priorities and goals for their children’s education. We are also aware that our approach at Acton Academy Northwest Indianapolis won’t be the right fit for everyone. To help you discern whether this is the case, we’ve identified the top 15 reasons that Acton Academy NW Indy may NOT be the right fit for your family.
15. You are uncomfortable with curious children.
If you send your children to Acton Academy NW Indy, expect them to be filled with wonder and curiosity at the world that surrounds them. Expect your child to come home and ask whether it is more important to have courage or grit. Or whether a leader can be assertive but not bossy. Or how your car’s windshield wipers work. If you don’t value these kinds of conversations, we probably aren’t right for you.
14. You are uncomfortable with struggle.
Grit and persistence are core values at Acton Academy NW Indy. We believe that growth happens best through challenge and that if adults swoop in to the rescue at the first sign of distress, they are robbing children of the important skill of problem solving and the joy that comes with overcoming. So if ease and comfortability are more valuable to you than growth, we probably aren’t right for each other.
13. You value prestige over competence.
If you care about more about impressing other people with the famous school you attended than pursuing meaningful work with the capacities you’ve cultivated and the character you possess, then Acton Academy NW Indy probably isn’t the right fit.
12. You value obedience over responsibility.
Obedience that is rooted in fear and control is bound to falter once the external constraints have been removed. Responsibility, on the other hand, is an innate character trait in which the child recognizes that their identity as a hero on a journey to change the world involves improving the setting that surrounds them by encouraging and serving others. Such a mindset transcends circumstances and will follow them wherever their path may lead.
11. You believe standardized tests are the best measure of growth.
In fairness, we offer an option for our learners to take a standardized test at Acton Academy NW Indy. They tend to do quite well. Our learners are well ahead of grade level on average, and over 10% of them have earned a perfect score on at least one category subtest.
Despite this success, we choose not to emphasize performance on standardized tests as what makes this place so special. They are helpful to measure progress in specific areas and can therefore be a tool to support the path of each learner, but they are not a complete measure of a child’s progress and development.
For example, they are completely devoid of higher order thinking (e.g. critical thinking or creativity), as well as the so-called “soft skills,” such as leadership, communication, collaboration, emotional intelligence, and resilience, all of which are critical to success in life and areas where Acton Academy NW Indy learners excel. Nor do they assess curiosity, the love of learning, or one’s character. So if the primary way you will measure your child’s growth is by their standardized test scores, then we probably aren’t the right place for you.
10. You value lots of memorization.
With any fact just a click away, we believe that learning to learn, learning to do, and learning to be are more valuable than memorization alone — learning to know.
9. You value outcome over process.
We believe that the process is far more important than the product. The skills that are developed through a focus on process – growth mindset, grit, and problem-solving – are translatable across all circumstances and will last a lifetime. Rushing to finish an assignment just to get it done, however, reinforces the opposite of these traits and undermines these critical skills. So if just getting it done without concern for the process used to do so is what matters to you, then perhaps we aren’t the right fit.
8. You value perfection over growth.
We believe perfection is the enemy of growth mindset. We see mistakes as learning opportunities and understand that our brains grow and change as we identify them and adjust course. So if you value perfection over learning from mistakes – or more practically, if misspelled words make you nervous – then perhaps we aren’t right for each other.
7. You value completion over mastery.
We believe that it doesn’t make sense to progress to the next level of something if the previous level hasn’t been fully mastered. Doing otherwise creates foundational gaps in learning that will compound over time and create major problems. The reason we don’t give grades at Acton Academy NW Indy is because there’s only one option: mastery. This would equate to an A+ in a traditional school, and our learners don’t move on until they have reached this level.
6. You value efficiency over creativity.
We believe that the discoveries that will shape the next generation will come from those who value creativity and innovation. We are a place that thinks discovering an important question is just as important as finding a right answer.
5. You value appearances over honesty.
We practice radical transparency at Acton Academy NW Indy. This means that our learners promise to be honest with each other and themselves, even if that means vocalizing something uncomfortable. Such situations present an opportunity for our young heroes to practice balancing warm heartedness and tough mindedness. Navigating such situations in the studio sets our learners apart in leadership, resilience, emotional intelligence, and many other soft skills that are critically important to success in life.
4. You value a standardized curriculum over a love of learning.
Some schools have mandated reading lists and a curriculum so jam packed with topics to cover that the child has no opportunity to pursue an interest or follow a passion. While we recognize the value of ensuring that foundational topics are covered, we feel it is more important for a child to fall in love with the written word, the pursuit of truth, and the wonder of creation. This is why learning isn’t siloed at Acton Academy NW Indy but is instead embedded in a series of challenges where learners draw upon a variety of subjects to solve meaningful, real-world challenges. Our learners solve mysteries by analyzing hair samples and conducting handwriting analysis. They build cars and send them down ramps to discover the truths of physics. They learn about entrepreneurship by launching a business and inviting children from across the city to join them at our Children’s Business Fair. Real life isn’t siloed. Learning at school shouldn’t be either.
3. A little friction makes you uncomfortable.
We value conflict resolution and emotional intelligence. Unfortunately, in most schools, adults shut down conflict at the first sign of friction, never allowing these skills to develop. At Acton Academy NW Indy, learners use a peer-mediated conflict resolution process to resolve problems that arise. This is messier than having an adult force an apology and separating children to opposite sides of the room, but the skills that are developed in the process are worth the messiness required to build them.
2. You don’t trust your child without micromanagement.
Helicopter parents who get nervous at small signs of distress struggle at Acton Academy NW Indy. We believe children are capable of more than we could ever imagine and empower them to take ownership of their learning. Undermining this by micromanaging their every action communicates to the child that they cannot be trusted and will ultimately stifle the child’s development in independence, agency, and autonomy, replacing these critical attributes instead with dependence and learned helplessness.
To be clear, this doesn’t mean you have to abandon involvement in their education, and there are many ways that we recommend parents to get involved and encourage their young heroes on their journey. But it does mean that you agree to allow your child to grow in agency and autonomy as they experience the consequences (both positive and negative) from their decisions. This is a difficult journey for many parents, but those who have embraced it will attest to its life-changing power.
1. You don’t believe your child is a genius capable of finding a calling and changing the world.
This is at the core of our approach and is the foundation for everything that happens here. This of course doesn’t mean that every child has an IQ of 180, but it does mean that each and every one of us has a unique gift that we can cultivate and use to serve others and change the world. If you don’t believe this is the ultimate goal of education – to find a calling and do something meaningful with your life – then Acton Academy NW Indy probably isn’t the place for you.
So there you have it. 15 reasons that Acton Academy NW Indy may not be right for you. If (after all of that) you still think we might be right for each other, feel free to schedule a tour.
Did you find this interesting? Here are a few more that you might like:
[Portions of blogs may be adapted from communications with or the blog of our partner school founders and advisors, Laura and Jeff Sandefer.