At Acton Academy Northwest Indianapolis we often refer to our learners as heroes. Why are we so intentional about this and why is it such a point of emphasis? It’s an important question, and the answer cuts to the heart of all that happens here at Acton.
Our children are not empty vessels waiting to be filled or a blank slate waiting to be written upon. Nor are they just a grade in a grade book, where the learning that takes place has little relevance to their process of becoming.
No, they are brimming with potential, endowed with a unique constellation of passions, gifts, and interests, eager to be co-creators and participants, and capable of more than we could ever imagine. The call to the heroic is the call to adventure, to a journey that will stretch you farther than you thought possible, where you will uncover your truest, most authentic self and find out who you were created to be — to discover a burning passion, your deepest gladness, and to painstakingly pursue it with all that you have, all that you are.
This is clearly not the language of the indulgent. In fact, I challenge you to pick up a biography of any inspirational hero. My bet is that you will find only the last chapter or so has been dedicated to their glorious victory, hoisting a trophy amidst the adoration of many. What you will find far more emphasis on is the journey required to reach that pinnacle moment — the trials, challenges, setbacks, and mistakes. At Acton Academy, that is what defines the hero: the willingness to get back up, learn from mistakes, and press on toward the vision of the better world that compels you.
Admittedly, many of our young heroes have yet to fully adopt this identity for themselves, and doubt sometimes lingers in the studio. Indeed, recognizing yourself as the hero of your own story takes some time. But make no mistake, the heroic spirit is alive and well, and we see examples of it each day in the studio: an exclamation of “I can do it!” about something previously avoided, the bravery to jump into a challenging activity, the resolve to try a new approach when previous attempts have failed, or the courage to respectfully confront another learner about an issue. This is the stuff of heroes, and within a community of growth-minded young people, it is being fortified into their souls each day.
So each time we refer to them as heroes, we aren’t indulging them, stroking their ego, or engaging in a cutesy language game. We are calling forth their truest selves and beckoning them onward in their journey to find a calling and change the world.
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