Session 3 – Week 2!

“When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another…We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness… whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government…”

– These famous and historic words were written by Thomas Jefferson on July 4th, 1776, as part of the United States Declaration of Independence.

Warriors began this week in the studio under the tyranny of King George. New proclamations and harsh taxes were imposed by his Royal Governors as the beloved studio had transformed into Colonial THA. The first four royal proclamations included: upon hearing the bell, patriots must line up in height order within two minutes, while loyalists could line up in any order within three minutes. When assembling, all colonists must say, “Hail to the King!” Also, loyalists may sit on chairs during assemblies, patriots would be fined 10% of an Integrity Point. While some loyalists were initially enjoying the partiality, the straws that broke the camel’s back were King George’s taxes. Everyone who ate lunch had to pay the 10% tax (of an integrity point) . Many Warriors, patriots and loyalists alike, decided to boycott and go on a hunger strike, despite a sudden new declaration that Loyalists would not be taxed the first day.  There was also a Pencil Tax – 10% of an IP for sharpening a pencil in the studio. Some Warriors smuggled mechanical pencils into the studio from home.

After four days of unfair proclamations, harsh taxes, and unlawful oppression, the colonists had enough. Starving, angry, and with all odds against them, the colonists united, loyalists and patriots, young and old, to draft and sign their own Declaration of Independence and revolt against King George. In order to revolt, according to the Colonial THA rules, all Warriors had to sign the document and then there would be a role of dice. In the same way that George Washington’s army had to defy almost impossible odds, Warriors had to role a one or two in order to win the revolution. A 3, 4, 5, or 6 meant the rebellion was defeated and harsher penalties and taxes would follow until the next role of the dice.

Click HERE to see how it all went down!

The reflective discussion that followed the end of Colonial THA was incredible. Warriors gained newfound respect, admiration, and appreciation of our founding fathers and the atrocities they faced that led to the birth of our great nation. They realized how they take many freedoms granted and how they are quick to divide themselves.

Colonial THA was just one of the many highlights this week! We had UN Speeches, a Holiday Party with our amazing THA Family, we had a Geo-Political Expert, an Immigration Lawyer share his Hero’s Journey and provide insight on our Quest, and so much more! Hope you enjoy this week in pictures…

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Mr. Dan, a successful and prominent immigration lawyer shares insight on his Hero’s Journey and sheds light on our Geo-Political Quest by answering various questions from our Warriors. 

 

This Thursday, Warriors transformed into UN Delegates that generated an awareness to various problems in the world like hunger, poverty, water scarcity, wastes, lack of support for refugees, etc. and proposed solutions at a UN Conference.

 

 

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Warriors dug deeper into their Strabo Geo-Political Quest, working on various geo-political challenges throughout the week. 

More Quest Time Pictures:

 

 

 

 

Core Skills…

 

Woodworking with Mr. Liam after school:

 

In order to establish a culture of Excellence, to foster a growth mindset and commitment to continuous improvement, Warriors are encouraged to gather feedback and continuous improve whatever they are working on. The THA culture pushes them to create multiple prototypes, written drafts, etc.  In this spirit, Warriors were challenged throughout the week to rehearse their UN Speeches and get feedback from their fellow travelers…

 

After their UN Speeches, we had an amazing holiday party with the wonderful THA family. We played a fun ice-breaker and ate delicious food prepared by all the THA parents.

 

Other highlights this week: Town Hall, Art, PE, and a new member of the THA Family! See you next week!

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Session 3 – Week 1

Faith is seeing light with your heart, when all your eyes see is darkness…”

Faith is taking the first step, even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

In every session at THA Warriors focus on a Quality of the Session, a THA core value, a particular virtue that sets the foundation for living a truly human life. Warriors engage in Socratic discussions and questions are posed that dissect the meaning of the quality, apply the quality to their own lives and studio life, and provoke self-examination of the prevalence of that quality in their decision making.

In addition to our quality of the session, morning launches this week included:

  • Monday: reflecting on the E-ship quest last session, reaffirming our sacred Studio Contract as we start the new session, and welcoming a new Warrior to the tribe
  • Tuesday: As our Warriors navigate through the challenges of a self-governing environment and struggle to hold themselves and one another accountable to the high standards they have set for themselves, a continued Socratic discussion on forgiveness was very relevant and impactful: Is it more important to provide a sincere apology or to not repeat your mistake?  This powerful video on forgiveness  kickstarted the discussion.
  • Wednesday: a Socratic discussion on faith – upon reading and explaining the quotes on faith above, Warriors discussed: Is it more important to have faith in yourself or faith in something bigger? When is there a time in the studio that “all your eyes see is darkness?” How can you keep “faith” in those moments?
  • Thursday: a launch on following directions and whether or not it is better to stick to procedure or to divert out of curiosity or natural inclination.

More of this week through pictures:

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This week we began a challenging mini-quest: Colonial THA! The studio has now been transformed into an English Colony governed by King George through his Royal Governors (the guides). Warriors have been divided up randomly into Loyalists (remained loyal to the King) and Patriots (who are seeking to revolt). The King will be proposing various taxes and he is obviously partial towards the loyalists and harsh with patriots. Despite only one simple proclamation from the King thus far, the studio has become divided, friendships have been challenged, and emotions are heightened! Imagine what our Founding Fathers went through! This week will certainly be interesting as King George proposes more taxes and proclamations in order to subdue his colony. Will there be a revolution? We’ll have to wait and see!

This Sessions Quest is called The Strabo Geo-Political Quest. As Warriors dissect our Question of the Year (What does it mean to be powerful?) deeper, they will study what makes a country powerful through its geographical and political climate as they “backpack” their way through Paris, starting from Dallas (see quest map below)! This weeks challenges included understanding locations of countries and capitals – geography tests on various regions, understanding basic types of governments and performing skits to display understanding, etc.

Other awesome highlights of the week include: meeting experts including the founder of Inspiration Masters, a group that provides training for public speaking, playing capture the flag in PE, creating amazing snowflake art from used plastic bottles, digging deeper into the Sanskrit script and vocabulary, woodworking during our after school activity to create a picnic bench, diving into DEAR, progressing in Core Skills, earning Integrity Points, contemplating during Civilization, and so much more! Can’t wait for next week!

 

End of Session 2! – Children’s Business Fair!

 

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“The first principle of entrepreneurship is service. Never forget that you are serving others…” – David Lamberti (Founder of Lamberti’s Ristorante and THA Entrepreneurship Expert)

It feels redundant saying “What an amazing week!” at the start of every weekly blog. Yet week by week, day by day, and moment by moment, the amazement and wonder never ceases at THA and continues augmenting.

Week 6 of Session 2 was no exception. Not only did we have even more riveting Socratic discussions and Launches, but we topped everything off with the a Children’s Business Fair! Here are some of the discussion topics from the week:

1) The Significance of Veterans Day

2) Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hour rule for greatness: https://youtu.be/XS5EsTc_-2Q

3) The Psychology of Saying Sorry – what is the key component of an apology: expressing remorse, claiming responsibility, or fixing the problem?

4) Why do so many millionaire athletes go broke? What will you do to ensure you spend your money wisely?  (Clip from ESPNs 30 for 30)

5) What will make your Entrepreneurship Quest a success: how much money you made, how many customers you made happy, what you learned through E-ship challenges?

Warriors were also stupefied by the personal accounts and insightful advice from entrepreneur experts Mr. David Lamberti and Mr. Ajay Panchal. Taking something and adding plus value to it, building a team of people centered around your vision, serving others, being resilient in the face of negativity and opposition but also humble in order to continuously improve, these were just a few of the powerful messages they shared.

In addition to working diligently on core skills, art, PE, Sanskrit, and Writer’s Workshop, Warriors gathered more feedback on their products, practices their business pitches, and worked on their booth set up for the fair. It was awesome watching them rehearsing and providing very specific and pertinent feedback for one another.

Some studio pictures from the week:

 

It’s impossible to capture all of the incredible moments here and put them succinctly into words, but there’s no doubt the highlight of the week was the culmination of the Entrepreneurship Quest: The Children’s Business Fair on Saturday.

We had 30 entrepreneurs from the ages 5-12 launched their own businesses on Saturday! Many of them sold out and many of them learned their first lessons in making money, giving back, saving, and relinquishing debt. The Children’s Business was an experience that transcends words. Not only were the products, services, and business displays beyond what we could have ever imagined, but also everyone who came – from our young entrepreneurs and their parents to friends and shoppers (about 300 people total in attendance) all had a great time.  These young, empowered heroes took the first step in their Hero’s Journey. They learned the basics of starting their own businesses and showed us that they are more capable than we can ever imagine. They gained real life experience in how they can actually find their calling and change the world, the goal of Acton and The Humanist Academy.

Here is a link to a Facebook live video from the fair (polished video of the fair coming soon).

In case you missed Mark Cuban’s video to our Warriors.

Please enjoy these awesome pictures from the fair!

 

Session 2 – Week 5

“What we do in life, echoes in eternity…”

Our Entrepreneurship Expert, Mr. Arpit, who completed his MBA at Kellog and currently works for Pepsi shared this quote from Gladiator to our Warriors, along with crucial elements of his Hero’s Journey and practical feedback on prototypes that Warriors presented as they prepare for the Children’s Business Fair next Saturday.

It was quite an amazing week! As always they participated in some intense, thought-provoking Socratic discussions and some very engaging life-related challenges as they dove into their Core Skills and worked to complete quest challenges.

On Monday, after meditation and a Socratic discussion on courage, humility, and grit during morning launch, Warriors were off to work on their Core Skills, as they tried to start the week off strong. On Wednesday Warriors discusses what they would do years from now when they received their first career paycheck: would you spend most of it, save most of it, or somewhere in the middle? Why? On Thursday they engaged in a discussion on what would make this entrepreneurship quest successful: making a lot of money, making a lot of customers happy with your product, or just enjoying the Journey of being an entrepreneur? Friday morning Warriors led and participated in a phenomenal town hall in which they resolved various studio related issues.

They also continued working on their UN speeches and improving their drafts for writers workshop. Here’s their WW map for this session followed by a picture of their reflective writing prompt: C54A18F7-D4A0-488B-868C-80493011F61E

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Tuesday’s Nature Trip to the Dallas Arboretum was certainly a highlight of the week for most of our Warriors. They explored mechanical, electrical, light, thermal, and sound energy through various exhibits before exploring other areas including a gigantic tree house, awesome maze, and the Land of Oz pumpkin patch!

During quest this week they really dug deep and tried to finish all six of their E-Ship Quest Islands so they could start working on preparing signs for their booths and perfecting their sales pitches.

Can wait to see them open for business next week at the fair! Hope to see you there!

 

Session 2 – Week 4

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“The problem is the solution…”

These were the words of wisdom shared to our THA Warriors by one of our Entrepreneurship Quest Experts, Ms. Adelaide, as she narrated the incredible journey of starting her own business.

As a mother of two, she struggled finding time for language study in between her responsibilities as a mom, and essentially turned the problem into the solution with her amazing product that promotes language learning through natural dialogue with your children. Feel free to check out her website here.  Warriors and guides alike listened in amazement as they heard Ms. Adelaide unravel the story of how her idea turned into this amazing international product and learned how she started with just $200 and turned it into this international company.

With every quest at THA, we make it a point to expose Warriors to real world experts.  We encourage experts to share key aspects of their Hero’s Journey with particular emphasis on the struggles and failures they overcame to get to where they are. Warriors are also always eager to gain valuable feedback and advice on their prototypes from the experts.

This week we had two amazing experts visit the studio. Our second expert was Mr. Manan, who not only pursued a biomedical engineering degree from a prestigious university, but also completed an MBA from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.  Warriors were blown away by his Hero’s Journey and also excited to hold and examine the product he works with in their hands – special lenses that help solve problems with cataracts.

Warriors were excited to receive very insightful feedback on their prototypes from the experts. They were given a wide range of advice, from the adjusting the pricing and enhancing the packaging of their products, to improving their marketing and thinking deeper about innovation. We are truly grateful to these experts for taking out time and inspiring our Warriors!

Two other major highlights this week:

  • Warriors went through their very own assembly line process as they competed in teams with one another to create quality sandwiches that we then delivered to a shelter for those in need. We started with a scenario about being the owner of a sandwich shop with four employees and being asked for an emergency delivery of 100 sandwiches as fast as possible. They explored various production and management concepts like: would you have each team member make their own sandwiches or would you create an assembly line? Would you pay by the hour or by the sandwich? Then we actually split up into teams and made the scenario come to life!
  • Warriors planned and executed their very own Halloween Party – including their self-created scavenger hunt and trick or treating! It didn’t happen without the usually arguing and heightened emotions, but it was so awesome to see what they created all on their own without adult interference.

For Quest: Warriors have only one E-ship Island left to complete as they prepare for the big Children’s Business Fair in two weeks: Competition and Substitute Island. They are rapidly making prototypes and gathering feedback to redesign and perfect their products.

For Writer’s Workshop – many of them have submitted their first drafts along with a self-evaluation. It is awesome to see what problems in the world they have researched and are trying to generate an awareness for.

They had a blast in Art this week as they worked on Halloween related Art. In PE they watched highlights of the World Series before completing their warm-ups and playing in their own THA World Series Championship!

Morning launches were such a blast as always! We had a Socratic discussion about whether you would create a safe and comfortable product for the fair that will give you a predictable amount of money vs. a risky product that could either do really well or completely flop, which option would you choose? We followed up this scenario with a discussion on failure and why we are generally so afraid to fail: is it because of our image, a lack of self confidence, or something else? We wrapped up the discussion with this inspiring video of famous failures!

We also discussed: the life and growth of a 400 lb pumpkin, how it is more important to seek meaning in life than happiness, inspired by positive psychologist Dr. Emily Esfahani Smith’s TED Talk, and a studio-life discussion on whether we should stay loyal to our friends when they break the contract and not ask for integrity points, or should we hold them accountable and not let it go.

Of course, these were just a few of the many amazing highlights that happen every week, every day, and every moment at THA. See you next week!

Session 2 – Week 3

“If you want to change the world, start by making your bed.” – Admiral McRaven

Our week started off with revamped efforts in studio maintenance. It was clear that a majority of Warriors were become careless in their duties and their sacred space was looking more like a typical college dorm room.  Warriors have made a deal with guides, if a guide has to step in and fulfill a Warrior’s studio maintenance responsibility, it will cost them one integrity point, but the cleanliness and sacredness of the studio must never be compromised. After several Warriors lost integrity points on Monday, Warriors responded with rejuvenated Studio Maintenance efforts.

Watching this commencement speech by Admiral McRaven during a morning launch also provided a lot of inspiration. Other morning launches included: revisiting humility, our Quality of the Session, where Warriors engaged in a discussion regarding the things we take for granted and watched this video about the dire water situation in Puerto Rico, a discussion about the Hero’s Journey and how to face difficult challenges like standing up to a bully, and a Socratic discussion about the perceived connection between money and happiness.

During the weekly Town Hall, Warriors voted to dress up for Halloween on Tuesday and are coming up with a proposal for extra time to understand the significance of the holiday and to play related games.

Warriors are advancing through their E-ship Quest quite rapidly! Their biggest challenge this week was Unit Economics Island, where they went through a Magic School Bus like simulation with Sally the Seller – who wanted to sell her own picture frames at the local market. They learned about various economic terms like sunk costs, variable costs, fixed costs, and revenue as they completed challenges to help them understand the unit economics of their own products.

Their biggest highlight this week was a video from one of Dallas’s most prominent entrepreneurs, Mark Cuban! Although he wasn’t able to come to the studio and visit as an Expert, Warriors were blown away by the fact that he took time out to send this inspirational video to them!

The Children’s Business Fair is coming up soon on Nov. 18th! Can’t wait to see their finalized products. Hope to see you all there!

 

 

 

Session 2 – Week 2

“Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.”  – Stephen Covey

For several weeks in the studio Warriors were dealing with a breach of trust and integrity in the studio. Somehow several integrity points appeared to have “gone missing,” and several Warriors felt one of them was going into their cubbies, violating their personal space, and stealing integrity points.

For our unique and innovative learner-driven educational model, trust is essential. Not only do the guides and parents place tremendous trust and faith in Warriors to take ownership of their own learning, but Warriors also place an incredible amount of trust in one another. The studio is, in their own words, “a sacred space.” It is their home. When trust is broken in the home, amongst members of a family, it may take a long time to rebuild. This was an extremly valuable learning experience for all of our Warriors.

One of the biggest highlights this week was to see all of the Warriors come together and rebuild their trust. They decided to sign a pact affirming their revived trust in one another. They agreed that the studio should never be a place where they feel they can’t trust one another. Aside from the many outstanding aspects of our non-traditional model, which include: self-directed learning of core skills like math, reading, writing, and spelling, life-oriented quests that nurture curiosity and culminate in student led exhibitions, Socratic guides that replace traditional teachers,  which place emphasis on the intrinsic desire of everyone to learn, it is these life lessons in trust and unity, which really make our studio special.

Other highlights from the week:

  1. Quest – Warriors are progressing rapidly through the Entrepreneurship Quest. Most of them have completed the first two islands – motivation and market island, and are ready to dive into Identity Island. For Market Island, they created their own surveys and went around collecting responses in order to develop a deeper understanding of the market for their products.  As they began Identity Island and really started to think about their companies, they were blown away by the story of Mikaila – the 12 year-old founder of Bee Sweet Lemonade, who started her business at an Acton Children’s Business Fair at the tender age of 4! You can read her story here and also watch this inspiring video for more information.
  2. Guest Speaker – On Monday, we had a guest speaker from the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society visit our Warriors and talk about cancer, stories about survivors, the work that they do, and how our Warriors could help fund research to fight against cancer. Warriors decided to start a spare change drive!
  3. Morning Launches included a launch on how to stay positive in the most difficult times, e.g. if you found out you had cancer including some inspirational words from Jimmy Valvano and a story about a father who survived Stage 4 cancer, also a current events launch on the Rohingya Muslim crisis in Myanmar, and a Question of the Year based Socratic discussion on a quote by Ben Franklin – “An investment in knowledge pays the highest interest…”
  4. Of course, Warriors enjoyed learning more about famous artists and diving deeper into primary and secondary colors in Art, working on more Baseball skills in their PE Unit, and working harder on their Sanskrit challenges. But they also had a blast with the various after-school activities this week: they made candles in celebration of Diwali, they continued developing their chess and basketball skills, and they were introduced to the principles of Design Thinking through very engaging hands on activities.

Looking forward to another amazing week at THA!

Session 2 – Week 1

“Follow your bliss.

If you do follow your bliss,
you put yourself on a kind of track
that has been there all the while waiting for you, and the life you ought to be living
is the one you are living.
When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in the field of your bliss,
and they open the doors to you.
I say, follow your bliss and don’t be afraid,
and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.
If you follow your bliss, doors will open for you that wouldn’t have opened for anyone else.”

– Joseph Campbell

The Hero’s Journey, a central theme at THA and also inspired by Joseph Campbell, is a journey that every THA Warrior embarks on in order to follow his/her bliss: to find a calling and change the world.  Through inspiring launches, thought-provoking Socratic discussions, self-directed Core Skills, daily SMART goal-setting, meticulous Studio Maintenance, mind-blowing Quests, and a holistic curriculum, the hope is that our Warriors are inspired to follow their bliss: to discover their passion and serve society in a meaningful way.

It was great to have the Warriors back in action this week! Our launches included but were not limited to – revisiting their sacred contract, reviewing survey feedback from the exhibition, discussing empathy and how it applies to interactions in the studio, conducting a Socratic discussion on seniority vs. effort and a Socratic discussion on our quality of the session: humility, launching our new quest for the session, town hall, and character-call-outs!

This session Warriors embarked on an Entrepreneurship Quest! As they dive into the basics of motivation, markets, identity, hiring, and competition, each Warrior has been challenged to create his/her own company, with zero involvement from any adults, especially parents (aside from providing transportation or an initial investment which must be paid back!). The quest will not only generate a deeper understanding of entrepreneurship, but it will plant seeds of responsibility, service, applied mathematics, and self-awareness. The E-Ship quest will culminate in a Children’s Business Fair on November 18th!

Warriors are pumped up and ready to go!

Entrepreneurship Quest Map:

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Session 1 – Week 6 (End of Session)

In a school that rejects traditional standards of measuring progress: grades, report cards, GPAs, standardized test scores, etc. the Exhibitions play a tremendous role in demonstrating learning at THA.  Throughout the year, Warriors are challenged to plan and lead exhibitions at the end of each quest (usually every six weeks). The goal is to present their learning to the community in a unique and engaging way.

Last Friday our Warriors hosted their first exhibition of the year. It was an attempt to show parents the various aspects of their day-to-day lives and give a tour of the studio. They had a greeting committee, refreshments, gave personal tours, showed videos of their Power of Water quests, facilitated a Socratic discussion, and participated in a question and answer panel for the parents. It was quite an amazing experience.

But from a guide perspective, the most amazing part had nothing to do with the actual exhibition. A week before the exhibition, Warriors were challenged to plan their very first exhibition of the year – “The world is coming to your studio in week, and you have two hours to show them the amazing things you are doing. How will you spend those two hours? What will you show them?”

The guides stepped back and let Warriors take the lead. Seeing them come up with ideas, watching those ideas turn into a concrete schedule of events, witnessing them divide themselves into teams, seeing various Warriors volunteer to coordinate things for their teams, watching them create their own pamphlets and researching how to conduct a Socratic discussion, and finally, witnessing them rehearse the exhibition… it was magical.

Not everything was perfect – at times the discussion and panel felt long, the videos were hard to hear and see at times, they weren’t always speaking kindly amongst one another, etc. and we encourage parents to share their feedback so Warriors can continue to improve. But the most amazing thing was that, aside from a little shopping for refreshments, and some AV assistance – uploading videos to youtube and setting up the projector, the work was entirely their own. It is truly amazing what our Warriors are capable of!

Other pictures from the week! Enjoy!