We didn’t grow up with an understanding of what Socratic Learning was. It wasn’t until we found ACTON that we fully dove into embracing the Socratic way of learning and living that we came to realize the power of socratic learning!
Socratic learning is QUESTION-BASED learning.
The Socratic approach enables learners to question, think critically, and come up with their own conclusions instead of being told to do the work and take the test. It’s a process of discovery, questioning and curiosity that leads to mastery.
-It encourages curiosity
-It requires respectful discourse and appreciation for various points of views (and the ability to support and defend your own points of view well!)
-It leads to critical thinking and independent learning
-A learner asking a Guide what they are supposed to be doing and the guide not answering their question but pointing them back to their goals for the week and the current badge they are working on. The learner then uses critical thinking to discover how to use their time. IMAGINE 12 YEARS of this. That would be an employer’s dream… to hire a young person who is self-motivated and self-aware enough to lead themselves without constant instruction!
-It looks like a young person working on reading skills and getting stuck on a lesson in Lexia and asking an older peer or guide to help… and then the older peer or guide helps by asking them questions about what confuses them until they find their own answer! (This is a LIFE skill. Whether you’re learning how to do your taxes or figuring out the steps to start a business or learning how to garden… you have to be able to figure things out!)
-It looks like a fight breaking out on the playground and instead of automatic detention, the entire studio has a Town Hall meeting and votes on the repercussions of the breech of their studio contract they promised one another. Crazy!
Young people are doing this around the world. Socratic leadership, Socratic learning and Socratic living is powerful! We’re thrilled that our kids will be challenged to be responsible in this way every single day at school!!
We’re Katelyn & Michael Alsop and Joe & Emily Malizia and we’re excited that you found this blog post! In 2020, we started dreaming about what education could look like for our children. It was right in the midst of the pandemic and we saw the turmoil in the midst of the traditional public school system. We knew there were good people in the public school system and alternative options for school in the private sector but the more that we did research, the more we realized that even a private school experience isn’t what we desired for our families.
We are entrepreneurs. I (Katelyn), started a business at 20 years old from my college dorm room and then grew it to a place where it supports my entire immediate family. Michael and Emily both work for our business in different roles and together we scaled a simple photography company to a global educational brand with over 25,000 online students. After years of being in the corporate world, Joe started his own transformational life coaching business and now uses his relational gifts to change people’s lives while also living with the freedom to design his days the way he wants.
Our jobs have changed us. We are living our daily lives experiencing the joy of using our gifts to fulfill our purpose and also bring in profit. We believe that every single person has unique passions and abilities that are purposeful. It’s through these gifts that an individual finds fulfillment and their life’s purpose.
So, what do our stories have to do with the traditional school system?
Our experience in business and our own personal life stories have made us aware of a few things when it comes to the educational model we’re choosing for our children:
1. We don’t want our kids to miss out on finding their passion in life. We want to do everything we can to give them a fair shot at discovering their passion.
2. We don’t believe the “normal” approach to education is actually the best way to learn and just like we’ve found freedom in doing our “work and careers” differently, we think education can be done differently too.
3. To truly thrive in business and in the job market, you need skills that aren’t taught in traditional education. We want our kids to learn how to read people, to practice respectful socratic discourse daily, to understand character flaws and personal responsibility. It is our desire for them to learn what it means to show up for people, keep commitments to themselves and others, and learn to govern their time and then feel the pain of failure if they don’t do it well.
4. We want our kids to fail often and cheaply. We want them to learn early that failure is a part of life and they have a choice to show up with a growing mindset or a victim mindset.
5. We value our children to stay active and spend time outside and not behind desk for hours and hours of their childhood.
6. We desire for their gifts and passions to be celebrated and not minimized. We also want them to be encouraged to figure out how to use their passions to contribute to society and make a living. This means being aware of opportunities and encouraged to try new things!
Last but not least, we realize that we love our passions and we love our jobs. We knew that we couldn’t homeschool our kids and still maintain our roles in our businesses. We also knew that we desired to be in community with other families that shared a similar mindset.
In 2020, we found Acton Academy and realized that literally everything we longed for was possible and already happening around the world. Acton Academy is a micro-school concept that is built upon the belief that young people are capable of being responsible for their own learning. These multi-age studios use socratic learning styles, have guides instead of teachers, are strategically smaller in size, celebrate being active and hands-on while learning and require a learner to have personal responsibility to fully access the freedom of this school concept.
It’s exactly what we want and more. The play-based learning, the daily socratic discussions, the character building, the quests, the use of technology in a mindful and intentional way… is a dream come true!!!
While there are close to 400 Acton’s around the work, there wasn’t one close to us. After almost 9 months of praying and seeking wisdom about this decision, the four of us decided to launch our own! We haven’t looked back since! We’re thrilled to bring Acton Academy to Richmond, Va!