We’re near the end of our Tribe Building Quest, on the cusp of bigger challenges and ambitions. If I’ve learned anything from this first Quest of the first year of Acton Academy, it would probably be to never underestimate a learner’s appetite for challenge and ambition. The deliberate pace of this first quest resulted in fun and high morale a week or two ago, but restlessness and frustration as we come to the end. I suspect it’s because they’ve been given this accountability system (the Eagle Bucks) which they are still trying to figure out how to use with intentionality. However, it’s set up this way because they will remember these frustrations when higher stakes are introduced, as they are about to be. Our Eagle Buck Store will be up and running soon, and they will see what the result of the hard work they’ve put into their Core Skills can get them. And if they plateau with their EB earnings, it will affect their movement in the Freedom Levels, where you gain or lose responsibilities and privileges. When these elements are in play, the Eagles will know the importance of maintaining the integrity of the EB system. That importance became considerably more apparent this week during a difficult but vital episode.

The EB system consists of an Eagle Buck Council of three learners elected by the community. It is their job to meet during free time on Fridays to make decisions about the legitimacy of each Eagle Buck request and act accordingly. It is a big, challenging responsibility, as you have to be the embodiment of justice for the community. As it were, the community felt that the Council had a tendency to play a bit of favorites and to not use their time wisely, which affects the rest of the community’s free time. This is natural, and something any learner would probably do when being the first to carry such a responsibility. So when the community decided to impeach the Council and elect a new one, it was a tough experience for everyone, but it was a vital learning moment where everyone saw just how great the weight of being on the Council is, and it will largely dictate the behavior of the new Council moving forward. Additionally, the community sees that when we break the Promises, there are more EB requests, therefore less free time because the Council has to use it to conduct Council business. They also see how when EB requests are used for petty reasons, it creates more work and less free time, and shows the importance of justice and reason when using the system.

These frustrations and temporary setbacks are not meant for shaming and highlighting failure (although we always try to keep in mind the powerful learning tool that failure can be), but to foster independence and decision-making with integrity. We’ve seen huge progress in so many areas from so many Eagles, and now we have so many big Quests ahead of us. They will have a foundation for using the systems to help them be productive and independent. They have seen the systems succeed as well as fail, and their Hero’s Journey moves into the next phase.

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