• Melissa Groff

Session 1, Week 4

This week was full of fun and learning! If you want to hear more about what happened in the studio, ask your Exploration Voyager about their poem and the writing process. Your Spark Voyager can tell you all about apples and whether they chose red, yellow, or green as their favorite.

Today, I'm going to take a few minutes to talk about the Session 1 Exhibition. Laura Sandefer does an excellent job in this blog post explaining the philosophy behind it. At the end of each session, we invite families to the studios to see a Voyager-led exhibition of learning. The exhibition process at Solvit Academy is very different from a final exam, or even from a performance that is directed mostly by adults at a traditional school.  I hope this post prepares you for some of the questions and emotions you may experience.  

The Exploration Studio exhibition will closely resemble the format outlined in Laura's blog. If you scroll down to Session 1, Week 5 on the Acton Academy Elementary Studio blog you can see details about exhibition in year 10! This will be similar to what you may see from your Voyagers this year. However, they will be planning the event so we can't say for sure yet what they will decide to do. In the Spark Studio, Melissa will play a larger role in planning the exhibition's events, particularly for the first session. Our goal is to start to build the skills that they will need to do more Voyager-led exhibitions in the future. We anticipate an evolution of what they look like throughout the year.

We believe every person who enters our doors will find a calling and change the world.  While our Exploration Voyagers must demonstrate mastery in core skills areas such as reading, writing, and mathematics, their quest work is a place for them to explore, create, be free, collaborate, fail, try again and ultimately discover their gifts.  They face their own weaknesses such as procrastination, distraction, and resistance. They improve by a process of 360 degree feedback; feedback to themselves, from their peers, and from their parents, guides and other adult heroes such as professionals in the field.

When a teacher directs a student's creative process, or a parent steps in to grab the glue gun and make the model look better, the child's creative process is short-circuited and oftentimes begins to wane.  On the other hand, if we can hang in there, watch, observe and use our natural curiosity to learn more about them, we can be powerful agents in holding a safe, reflective space in which they grow.

We ask our Voyagers to be curious and ask questions, and I will ask you to use the Socratic method to reflect on your feelings regarding the exhibition.  

What did you observe in the Voyagers? In yourselves?  Did you feel uncomfortable, impatient or frustrated by long presentations where you couldn't quite understand what was happening, or by a feeling that their work needed to be better? Did you feel impressed by the inventions, creative quality or hard work and skill building that some of the projects displayed?

It is normal to feel an array of emotions, thoughts, and feelings regarding the exhibition.  I am preparing myself to experience these same emotions alongside you.  I invite you to let go of wanting to fix, improve or praise your young Voyager. Instead, get curious about the process of completing their projects and their presentations.

Here are a few questions to get you started:

1. Tell me more about how you came up with your idea.

2. Did your project end up looking like you imagined that it would? If yes, how did you do that? If not, which parts did not meet your expectations?

3. What did you think of your presentation? Would you change anything? What would you do differently next time? 

4. What was your favorite or most satisfying part of your presentation?

We know that a child who tries something and fails, learns from it and will internalize that lesson forever.  Whereas a child who is directed by a teacher to make a perfect presentation in order to please parents or to get a good grade, actually doesn't learn the most important lesson of how to present, reflect, and improve over time. 

One last thing: it can be tempting to criticize other Voyagers’ work. It is in our human nature. But, when we practice comparing ourselves or our children to others, we enter into a never-ending game of insecurity. What is much more powerful, positive, and gives us more energy to be high performing and wholehearted people is to celebrate the work and contributions of everyone in our community and to only compare ourselves to who we were yesterday. That way, we free ourselves from the shame and bad feelings that inevitably come with being judgmental and critical.

Your Voyagers are all working very hard and learning many lessons.  Whatever happens at the exhibition is another opportunity to learn and grow.  It’s an opportunity for us to grow as parents and deepen our relationship with our learners.  

Logistics: The Session 1 Exhibition is Wednesday, October 14th. Spark Studio will have a shortened morning routine and will get started around 8:45 am, so you may stay when you drop your learner off. Exploration will begin around 10 am. You may watch one or both exhibitions. Please wear a mask.

Excited for this!


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