Let’s talk about failure.
In most traditional environments, students are punished for failing. As a result, these students begin to develop a severe aversion to failure and they want to avoid it at all costs. The younger generation today are so afraid to fail at anything that they don’t even want to try new things. If there is a remote chance of failing, they choose to take a step back and stay in their comfort zone.
At Acton Academy, we create an environment where children can fail cheaply, often, and safely. It’s only inside the studio environment where they are safe in their failures. After all, it isn’t the real world where they are losing thousands of dollars due to their mistakes.
Let me tell you a story about one exhibition that happened to our students. One project we have at Acton Academy is called the Drama Quest, where the students create a play themselves. They write the script, direct it, make their costumes, make their own set, and even sell tickets to the public themselves.
In one exhibition, the guide knew that the students weren’t fully prepared. But since the time is up, they have to start right away. The parents came in, all excited to watch the play. But the Eagles had some cardboard boxes around the stage that ended up being piled on top of each other. As they acted behind the boxes, the audience sat on the other side just seeing a wall. Since the whole play was filmed, the Eagles were able to watch their play the next day. Some of them started crying and couldn’t believe they had let themselves down. But during reflection time, the guides asked questions that helped the students evaluate their actions. All of them were so engaged and determined to learn from their mistakes that they never failed at an exhibition like that again afterward. In fact, they had the most beautiful exhibitions after that major failure.
At Acton Academy, we celebrate both successes and failures. We reflect on them and focus on the lessons that could be learned. As a result, students learn perseverance, dedication, and curiosity where they want to try new things all the time. They learn to look back and take ownership of their failures, not just their successes. Because if they don’t, the beautiful lessons of failures and struggles will not be learned.