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  • Writer's pictureLaura Sandefer


With over 200 Acton Academies and 600 Acton Children’s Business Fairs around the world it’s easy to get overwhelmed in trying to figure out the answers to these questions: “What does it mean to be learner-driven? Isn’t this the same as student-centered? Why does the distinction matter? Is this for me and my family?”

First and foremost, there is an essential starting point for any Acton Academy and it’s a simple belief: Every child is a genius.

This belief infuses a sense of identity to each learner and fuels all of us in the community with a high purpose.

For us, genius is about uniqueness. It’s about the creative potential lying within each human which will waste away if not recognized and honed over time, with rigor.

How does this belief play out each day? It shows up as an exquisite respect for children – their work, abilities and power. We trust children to do hard things including governing themselves, holding themselves accountable and working towards excellence. And, we look to the children when there are problems to solve in the community.

Speaking as a mom, how does this play out for me at home? It means I must get out of my children’s way and let them do hard things without hovering, interrupting or fixing. This is painful for me and I fail often – even with my son in college. I can barely hang up the phone with him without sounding like the end of a pharmaceutical commercial speaking really fast about getting sleep, staying hydrated, doing laundry… until he interrupts and gently says, “Mom, I’ve got this.” Yes, son. You do. Thank you.

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