Stressed out students. Dissatisfied parents. Overwhelmed teachers. Where is the joy in modern schools? When is the last time you stepped into your child’s classroom and thought “Wow, I can feel how happy everyone is.” (Hint: if your answer was your child’s pre-school class, that is sadly too far back.) Here at River Oak Academy, we make it one of our top goals that every child is nurtured. Another priority is to ensure every child learns to love learning. We recognize that these goals are unattainable if we make adults the focus of the schooling experience. Does it truly benefit a learner to have a teacher lecture at a class day in and day out? Does it bring joy to a classroom when kids come to expect the same experience on a daily basis? Does anyone actually learn better or retain more information when it is assumed that one single person, in a room full of intelligent and inquisitive minds, always has the right answer (and that we assume there is only one correct solution)? The obvious answer to all of these questions is a clear “no.”
For parents who are not familiar with the Acton model, hearing the word “Guide” can conjure up all sorts of feelings. Confusion as to why we don’t use the word “teacher.”
Fear that their child won’t learn as much because they do not have a “real” teacher- a person of authority, a person who has all the answers. Curiosity about what this truly means to be in our school - and all Acton schools. Simply put, the role of a Guide is three-fold.
First, a Guide must inspire children to believe in their own agency as well as the agency of their peers so that all the learners are simultaneously confident and compassionate.
Secondly, a Guide must set up exciting challenges to engage all learners so that each and every child is motivated to try their best always and in all ways.
Finally, a Guide supports a child in holding themselves accountable for their actions and reflections so that each Studio is full of positive energy and intentionality.
So you see, it’s not just semantics. We do not use the word “Guide” only because it is a different term than “teacher.” We truly see it as our duty to guide children along their educational journey - careful not to limit dreams or squash hopes or feelings along the way, but still maintain the consistency and standards that every school needs.
We are proud to support each and every one of our learners so that they can thrive with us at ROA, but also for all the years after they take flight into the endless world of possibilities. Our vision is not short-term; we do not give importance to outdated worksheets and anxiety-inducing tests. Instead, we value people, relationships, and connections. We begin the journey already envisioning a child’s success and make it our goal to turn that vision into a joyful reality. We are bringing the joy back into learning.
Be Curious with Joy!