New Blog Page for Current School Year

Thank you to all of you who have been following this blog! We had a wonderful first year of school at The Humanist Academy and could not have done it without the support of this amazing community.

To stay updated on current studio endeavors: the launches, Socratic discussions, Quests, and various character-centered, curiosity building activities that happen every day at THA, please join our new blog: thablogyear2.wordpress.com.

Please also don’t hesitate to share any feedback regarding our school blogs or any feedback / questions in general to info@thehumanistacademy.org.

Thanks!

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End of Year 1!

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“I learned that I used to get angry very easily and now I don’t let things bother me as much…”

“I learned that I actually like reading. I used to pretend I was reading, but I would do something else. Now I actually like it…”

“I learned about what it means to take care of other people and to be responsible for the others in our studio, especially the younger ones…” 

“I learned about integrity…”

 – Highlights from our THA Warriors on their last day of school

 

A Call To Adventure:  Last summer our heroes embarked on an incredible journey. They walked into the doors of The Humanist Academy not knowing what to expect. They didn’t know what this weird new school, where there are no grades or report cards, the adults don’t answer any questions, they are not grouped into a classroom by age, they learn math and reading by themselves, etc., they weren’t sure what The Humanist Academy had in store for them.

Fellow Travelers:  To their surprise they were not alone in their anxiety and discomfort. They found a group of amazing fellow travelers that became their family. They learned from one another, competed with one another, played games together, read together, collaborated with one another, set goals together, cleaned together, gave each other specific feedback, listened and argued respectfully with one another, created proposals together, planned and executed exhibitions together, laughed, cried, and loved together.

Trials, Failure, Crisis: Our warriors went through very difficult, real life experiences every single day, which build resilience, grit, and character. Despite showing a unique excitement for school everyday, their journey was not easy, and they went through a lot of challenging experiences: being asked for that first integrity point, losing an appeal during a conflict-resolution discussion with council, feeling isolated by other warriors in the studio, continuously getting into arguments with a sibling or close friend, losing papers that would have counted towards a Writer’s Workshop submission, getting stuck in a Core Skill and not having an adult intervene, grammar packets, getting a strike for dishonesty or physical harm, feeling behind my peers in my badges, leading an exhibition without any help from adults, taking responsibility for my own education at such a young age…

Rebirth, Transformation, Atonement: Despite the numerous challenges, struggles and failures our warriors faced, they never gave up. They exemplified persistence and resilience like true Warriors. They overcame these trials and times of crisis and grew stronger. It is amazing to look back on this year and think about all they have accomplished: the LipDub, Core Skills Exhibition, Zoology TED Talks, an Ethnic Feast, an Engineering Expo, a puppet show, publishing their own children’s books that will go in our THA library, a White Coat Ceremony with Anatomy Monologues, an Identity Quest, an Independent Study Quest, and producing a Sanskrit Skit, creating 50-100 page portfolios of their work, just to name just a few. Obviously, they also grew significantly in their Core Skills, in their presentation skills, in their leadership abilities, their understanding of qualities and values like humility, honesty, integrity, and gratitude. But most importantly, they grew in character. They were challenged by each other and their Socratic guides to think deeply about their decisions and their impact. They were challenged to seek long term benefit over immediate gain, excellence over mediocrity, grit over laziness, and compassion over contempt, and love over hate.

The Return: Our warriors returned to their normal worlds on Friday, June 23rd, 2017. They had an amazing week full of celebrations, discussions, a IOWA testing, and a field day. While they returned to back home to their ordinary worlds, we know what they went through was quite extraordinary.

We look forward to starting the journey all over again this August. Thanks for an amazing year!

Click here for a link to our end of the year video. Password is warrior. 

Hope you enjoy the pictures from our last week!

 

 

Session 7 – Week 3

Gratitude is not only the greatest of all virtues, but the parent of all others.”

– Marcus Tullius Cicero

 

Another amazing week just flew by at THA! Here’s what our warriors were up to:

Morning Launches and Socratic Discussions: Our THA warriors spent the week diving deeper and deeper into our quality of the session: GRATTITUDE. They engaged in discussions about what gratitude exactly means, how it is best expressed,  and what impact it has both on ourselves and others, when we when we express gratitude with sincerity. We explored the work of Dr. Robert Emmons, the “Science of Gratitude,” and how an attitude of gratitude is essential to well being and a joyful life. We also read poems and watched videos that helped us remember people and things in our own lives that we should be grateful for.  Additionally, we watched some very motivational videos including some powerful secrets to success by Will Smith and this inspiring video of Mandy Harvey, a young woman who lost her ability to hear at the age of 18 yet persevered to continue learning music and succeeded just recently on the big stage! We also watched this amazing video on The Power of Words during a Writer’s Workshop launch as our Elementary Warriors worked on their end of the year blog posts. As usually, every inspiring video was just the beginning, acting as a spark to thought-provoking Socratic dialogue that occurs frequently in our studio.

Other highlights: Additionally, our heroes worked on their Independent Study Quests, on Writer’s Workshop, enjoyed revisiting our football and basketball units in PE as we wrap up the year, worked on their art projects, and are finalizing their skits for Sanskrit. Our end of the year portfolio review meetings have been simply amazing! It has been a great experience to look back on the year with an extensive portfolio they have put together that highlights such meaningful experiences and explicitly shows their growth. We also really enjoyed the school picnic thrown by our THA Parent Committee last week as well as the Yoga and Nutritional Food classes every Tuesday! THA Warriors were also quite excited to test out their new playground!

During town hall, in addition to discussing any studio related concerns, our Warriors came up with different themes for each day of our last week of school, a “Spirit Week.” Monday is pajama day! See you next week!

 

 

 

Session 7 – Week 1

“Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit.” – E. E. Cummings

Last session our THA Warriors went on a quest to gain deeper insight into who they are, where they come from, and how they identify themselves (for more details see last week’s blog post!). The hope ultimately underlying the quest and just about everything we do at THA is a strong sense of belief in one’s self.

As we wrap up the school year in just three short weeks, our Warriors have been challenged to take up an Independent Study for their Quest this session. They have been challenged to take on any project of interest: learn an instrument, a language, paint a portrait, learn break-dancing, study a topic of interest, etc. There are no restrictions on what the Independent Study can be, as long as it is something they are deeply curious about and it must be challenging.

By Friday, most of them had submitted their proposals for their Independent Studies, which needed approval from their running teams and a guide. Every proposal included a question they are trying to explore: e.g. “How much conversational Spanish can I learn in four weeks?” They also included weekly goals, a list of resources they’ll need from the guides to complete the study, and what their final product will look like (i.e. performance, product, or presentation?).

While most of our Warriors are working on their Independent Studies, some of them have been using quest time to finish up any remaining badge work so they can prepare for the next level on their hero’s journey through school: Middle School and Elementary!

Additional highlights – Our heroes took guide feedback surveys to help us improve, they really enjoyed the Yoga and Nutrition after-school activity, they completed their 360 reviews of each other and took some time to reflect on the feedback, participated in team-building activities, are working on finalizing their Sanskrit skits, participated in a civilization based Warrior’s Tournament, and were introduced to the quality of the session: Gratitude!

For more highlights and fun, see you next week!

Identity Quest – End of Session 6!

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear in that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our Light, not our Darkness, that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?

You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the World.
There is nothing enlightening about shrinking
so that other people won’t feel unsure around you.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone.
As we let our own Light shine,
we consciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear,
our presence automatically liberates others.”

– Marianne Williamson

This week our Warriors inched a little closer to discovering that powerful and immeasurable light within them. Throughout the session they dug deeper within themselves and pondered upon questions like, “Who am I?” and “Where do I come from?” All of their efforts and all of their research, including but not limited to – “My Name” projects, bio-poems, the geography challenge, the warriors tournament challenge, personality tests, the “Where do I come from?” debate, their presentations boards, powerpoints, etc. everything culminated into their presentations last Thursday. We video taped the presentations for our parents and eagerly await their feedback! It was amazing to see how much they learned about themselves and their families.  While all of the presentations were certainly amazing to watch, the heroes who really took the time to research and learn something about themselves, those who were diligent about the process, certainly stood out the most.  We also invited parents to the studio so they could see transcripts of the children’s books our warriors created during Writer’s Workshop this session. Parents were able to look at all of the books and place orders on the ones they wanted published. We’re excited to have published books written by our very own THA Warriors on our studio shelves! We ended the week with some cleaning, some dancing, Character Call Outs, our school store and some THA signature cookies!

Can’t believe we only have one session left! See you next week!

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Identity Quest-Week 5

This week in pictures…

IMG_4265THA Warriors meeting for conflict resolution on Friday. At THA, students discuss conflicts they have with each other in front of a council that helps provide an unbiased perspective and leads the discussion toward a resolution. An essential aspect of our community is empowering our warriors to solve their issues on their own without adult intervention.

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Warriors enjoying their studio maintenance responsibilities!

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Happy Mother’s Day! THA Warriors celebrated Mother’s Day on Friday by taking out time to think about the countless efforts and sacrifices our mom’s have made for us. We watched this amazing clip before the moving discussion. Then our heroes put finishing touches on their Mother’s Day gifts! We ended the week like we do every week, with character call outs, but this time with an added twist: warriors gave character call outs for their moms! 

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This week our Warrior’s worked on finalizing their identity quest presentations. 

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THA Warriors enjoying the fun and creativity of Art class! 

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THA Warriors celebrating the efforts of a particular warrior for his outstanding efforts toward a Sanskrit challenge.

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THA Warriors diving deeper into power-point sessions with a THA parent during our after school activity.  They are learning so much it’s amazing! 

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The Warrior’s Tournament was a civilization trivia challenge. While it was certainly a close contest with a dramatic finish, these warriors came out on top! 

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Montessori Warriors working on their Identity Quest presentation boards. 

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Writer’s Workshop this week was such a blast! After completing drafts of their books, our warriors collected feedback from each other in small groups to make their stories even more excellent! 

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Warriors led stretches during PE this week. They decided on their own to do some Yoga and sun salutations (Surya Namaskaar)! 

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Identity Quest – Week 4

“Integrity is choosing  your thoughts and actions based on values rather than personal gain.”    – unknown

As our heroes journeyed through week 4 of their Identity Quest, they spent some extra time hearing stories, dissecting quotes, and thinking about our quality of the session: Integrity. We revisited an inspiring story about Abraham Lincoln, who wouldn’t drink whiskey or smoke a cigar with a prestigious colonel because he didn’t want to break a promise to his mother. We also heard an amazing story about a boy named Ikeh, who despite facing ridicule and embarrassment from all of the other boys in his village, did not forsake his integrity and ended up becoming the King’s successor. Another outstanding morning launch this week involved a Socratic Discussion on which factor has a bigger impact on success: talent, hard work, or circumstance? Our warriors listened to new perspectives, articulated their own views, and even disagreed with their  own initial opinions, as they gained clarity from one another and pondered these profound questions.

During quest time, as we dug deeper into “Where do I come from?” We tried to understand what really makes us American. We analyzed the word “freedom,” and gained a deeper understanding of external freedom and internal freedom. We dissected what core values came from our ancestors and heritage, and what core values came from being American. We looked at the pledge of allegiance, the Declaration of Independence, and even the history and symbolism behind the American flag in our hunt to really understand what it means to be American.  Then, we had a very intense debate on who we should identify with more: the culture of our ancestors or present day America? Socratic discussions and debates are great catalysts for developing critical thinking and clarity of ones own thoughts and values.  The debate was definitely one of the biggest highlights of the week!

It was also a blast learning about the historical significance of Cinco De Mayo and enjoying some awesome snacks on Friday! Throughout the week our warriors continued progressing on their core skills, enjoying their PE unit on soccer, doing creative projects in Art, learning more about Power Point after school, leading their own town hall meetings, competing in a mathematics Warrior’s Tournament, completing their drafts for Writer’s Workshop, and engaging in so many other awesome activities at THA!

See you next week!

Identity Quest – Week 3

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“A people’s relationship to their heritage is the same as the relationship of a child to its mother.”

– John Henrik Clarke

Another amazing week just flew by!

Some highlights:

1) Our heroes conducted interviews with their parents last weekend and shared their experiences with us on Monday. We were blown away by what we learned! Among our community we have parents who have published 5 books, have saved a friend’s life,  a grand parent who was actually attacked by British officers in Colonial India, and so much more! They continued their identity quests by looking into the five themes of geography and completing a geography challenge regarding their family heritage.

2) We engaged in powerful Socratic discussions including one on the Hero’s Journey of famous dancing violinist Lindsey Stirling, a launch on the importance of getting into flow during core skills, and a Socratic Discussion on assimilation versus preservation with respect to immigrants who have migrated to a new country.

3) Although our warriors may argue that just about every moment at THA feels like a highlight, one of their biggest highlights this week was the arrival of a much anticipated visitor on Friday: Ms. Jill’s dog Charlie!

See you next week!

Session 6 – Week 2!

This week in pictures…

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The morning launches this week were mind-blowing! We learned about a 19-year young girl, Maggie Doyne, who gave up her life savings of $5,000 in baby-sitting money so she could build a home in Nepal for orphans and help them get into school! We also learned about the Wemmicks and what makes us special. We were extremely moved by the true story of CP Singh, a PE teacher from a village in Rajasthan who has never told a lie and never taken money from anyone, not even as a gift. Using a powerful scene from Cool Runnings, we also thought deeper about whether greatness comes from emulating elites or from discovering your own identity. 

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Warriors celebrated Earth Day by understanding how much our Mother Earth does for us, how our actions effect her, and by doing some planting!

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Montessori Warriors setting their daily SMART Goals.

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During Writer’s Workshop, our warriors listened to amazing mentor texts and worked on their own story books.

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Playing a game during Sanskrit class!

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We worked on passing during our soccer unit in PE!

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Our heroes spent the week diving into their identity quests by writing bio-poems for each other, studying interview techniques, creating powerful questions, and preparing for their parent interviews…

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DEAR Time! 

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Art class! 

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Studio maintenance! 

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Warriors leading town hall.

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Free Time!

Session 6 – Week 1!

“We discovered that education is not something which the teacher does, but that it is a natural process which develops spontaneously in the human being.”

-Maria Montessori

Upon returning from their spring break, our warriors  returned an a very typical fashion: filled with smiles, hugs, and excitement! A distinct yet unquantifiable buzz filled the air as warriors greeted each other back to school on Monday morning.

We began Monday morning with a very important launch, revisiting the Studio Contract, our very own warrior-generated constitution which reminds us of the promises we made to each other regarding how we should conduct ourselves in the “sacred” studio.

Throughout the week, our morning launches and Socratic discussions ignited the minds of our heroes and probed them to dig deeper into topics like the studio contract, meditation,  integrity (our quality of the session), and The question “tough-minded or warm-hearted?”

We started off core skills with 30 minutes of goal setting as our warriors mapped out their plans for the session. They evaluated their progess for each badge thus far, reflected on their progress, and created goals for the session before setting their daily smart goals. Then they dove right in!

During quest time, our warriors morphed into journalists who are on the verge of uncovering the biggest story of all time! They have been challenged to answer the most powerful question known to humanity: Who am I? As they explored this question, they engaged in riveting discussions on personality and identity. They investigated the meaning and origin  of their own names and plunged into Carl Jung’s 16 personally types, culminating in a personality test and reflection on their own personality.

For Writer’s Workshop, our warriors transformed into authors of children’s books who have taken up the challenging task of writing a realistic fiction picture book to submit for publication by the end of the session! To lay the groundwork, they listened to mentor texts, watched a moving TED Talk on the power of personal narrative, wrote and shared their own “scar stories,” and started the initial planning for their publications.

Additional highlights:

  1. We were excited to welcome our new warrior, Arjun, this week.
  2. They started a soccer unit in PE.
  3. They created their own clay villages in Art!
  4. They mapped out their Sanskrit badge plan.
  5. For the after school activity this session, they are learning how to create PowerPoints.
  6. We ended the week with an Easter celebration, which included understanding the deeper meaning behind Easter and ended with an egg hunt!