Imagine a studio of young heroes with the freedom to make their own choices and the responsibility for holding each other accountable. When done right, it’s one of the most powerful environments for children to learn deeply and find joy in their learning.
As you can imagine though, it doesn’t happen on day one.
The second week of the year was full of both intentionality and chaos as the heroes grapple with new systems and people, and begin creating the foundation for a strong culture. Look past some of the chaos and you will see evidence of some of life’s biggest lessons being learned. These heroes are learning to have the courage to hold each other accountable, choose intentional work over cheap distraction, how freedom and responsibility coexist, the joy of unforced learning, and many more lessons. Some are learning quickly that their choices have consequences, while others will learn as their freedoms change next week.
Hero Bucks and Freedom Levels
On Monday two key systems were introduced into the studio: Hero Bucks and Freedom levels. The heroes earn hero bucks each week through their core skills work, which can be used to buy items in the hero buck store. When they do not uphold their promises to the community they can be held accountable by a fellow traveller and lose a hero buck. Along with this, the freedom levels add another incentive for hard work and focus. The more responsibility and contribution the heroes show in the community, the more freedom they can earn.
Freedom, Responsibility and Creativity
As more systems continue to be introduced, the heroes have been faced with many challenging questions during our morning launches:
- Is it better to face struggles but have freedom or to have it easy but not be able to choose your own path?
- Should we have individual property rights, where everyone has their own and makes decisions with their own property, or should property be owned by the group, available to anyone when they would like to use it?
- Are you born with a certain amount of creativity or can you learn to be more creative?
Each session there is a heroic character trait that the studio focuses on and discusses and this session that trait is creativity. While some heroes believe you are either born with creativity or not, others argued that you can increase your creativity, although exactly how this happens is still to be considered. It is evident that during these discussion the heroes are thinking deeply about their beliefs and are beginning to take a stand for those beliefs.
As the heroes take more ownership of the studio, they have been taking on the responsibility of introducing systems to the studio and, this week, one hero courageously requested to run the close group discussion. On Thursday Betsy led the group in a discussion about consequences, something she said she had been thinking a lot about over the summer. She highlighted that consequences are often thought of as a negative thing, but that there are also many good consequences for actions also. The heroes then spent time discussing consequences that related to the studio. To see the heroes truly leading the studio demonstrates how much Heroes Academy is truly a learner-driven community.
Egg Drop Challenge
The annual Heroes Academy Egg Drop Challenge was another opportunity for creativity this week. In teams the heroes made structures using cardboard, plastic, paper and tape that had to protect an egg from breaking when dropped from a height. Not only was this a fun STEM challenge for the heroes but an interesting opportunity to reflect on the rewards and challenges of working in a team.
The Scavenger Quest
The heroes have also begun their first quest for the year: the Scavenger Quest. This session the heroes will be challenged to a quest that will engage and stretch their creativity by taking recycled items and and turning them into something new and useful.
They’ll also be challenged on the importance of recycling, the responsibility we have to our planet, and where to find truth through noise. Tough questions for any of human.
Finishing the week each Friday with Character Callouts is a highlight in the studio for all. As part of establishing a community of encouragement and kindness, each Friday during close group is spent with the heroes calling out heroic character that they have noticed their fellow travellers displaying. Some from today’s close included:
“I noticed that Alexa shared one of her chicken nuggets with Adri during lunch time, I call that sharing.”
“I was having a really hard time getting my story printed in quest today and Betsy helped me to work it out and get it printed. I call that kindness.”
“I noticed that Tyson was working hard to get his studio maintenance job done today. I call that hard work.”
Through the ups and downs of the laying the foundation for another year at Heroes Academy, the joy the heroes experience as part of this community far outweigh the moments of low intentionality. These heroes are forming strong friendships, learning the importance of accountability, and finding confidence as they choose hard work.
We’ll leave you with a few quotes overheard this week from those whose journeys bring us here:
- “I can’t stop smiling!”
- “Can I do core skills at home too?”
- “I never got to do this at my old school!”
- (when being picked up) “I want to stay here!”