In the traditional system, bullying is very common. In some schools, no serious actions are being made even when the teachers are well aware of the situation. Whether physical or verbal, no one deserves to be bullied. It will never be okay.
To address this issue, there are two questions to ask. First, “How can we, as a society, stop bullying?” But a question that is even more powerful is this: “How can we empower our children to be able to stop bullying before it even starts?”
At Acton Academy, we have many systems in place. One of the most strong and powerful ones is the Studio Contract. The students spend the first 6 weeks of school drafting a contract and describing the promises and responsibilities they make to each other, such as:
“I will not distract others when they are in deep work or during core skills time.”
“I will not run in the studio.”
“I will not hurt others emotionally and physically.”
At the end of writing their contract, the Eagles express their sacred honor by signing their name to it. As the year progresses and an eagle violates his contract, another eagle can call them out. There would be a penalty or fee involved in every violation.
If an eagle gets out of hand, he will be given a strike. Strikes means the student is sent home. It allows him to revisit the promises he made to his fellow Eagles. He also cannot come back to the studio until he has drafted a plan of how he is going to change his ways. He is then going to create another contract signifying his promise to the guide and the other Eagles.
But the third time an eagle receives a strike or is sent home, he is out of the school. For others, it’s just not yet time for them to be in this type of learning environment. If they want to come back, the only way is for the other Eagles to vote them back—which is another type of power that we give to the students.
When you go to Acton, you will see how happy the Eagles are. They are very considerate and respectful not just to adults, but also to each other. By having a Studio Contract, they step into a role of authority and live up to the responsibility involved in keeping the contract they signed.