Explorations Academy Students Manifest Action

The greatest values in the world won’t make a difference unless they are moved into action. Similarly, Napoleon’s observation, “The world is not ruined by the wickedness of the wicked, but by the weakness of the good,” highlights the need for not only goodness, but goodness that is moved beyond weakness to powerful action.

Each year as our faculty plans our curriculum, we select an overarching theme to unify our overall program. This past year, our theme was ACTION – making things happen. And since not all actions are equal, we emphasized powerful action. My friend Terry Pickeral calls this “making a difference that makes a difference.”

In presenting this idea to our students, we organized the attributes of powerful action by using each letter of the word ‘action’ to associate with each key attribute.

Starting with the A in ‘action’, we called our students to being authentic. In other words, their actions should not simply be going through the motions, but should be rooted in genuine motivation. We call this “doing it real.”

The C in action aligns with the idea of citizenship. As part of a larger community, we ask everyone act in accordance with others’ needs as well as our own. This represents “doing it for the world.”

T stands for taking initiative. This is where we coach young people to be forthright and courageous, and not simply wait for others to act. We call this “doing it now.”

The I references intentionality – the linkage between an action and a specific purpose. Each act is chosen to serve a specific purpose, which means “doing the right thing.”

We also challenged students to invest themselves, by associating the letter O with ownership. We want them to be acting in ways that feel right to them, that they can then be proud of. We call this “doing it your way.”

And finally, because no action begun is as powerful as an action completed, we linked the letter N with necessary effort, which highlights the value of perseverance and follow through. This is “doing it… ‘till it’s done.”

To truly see the value of this theme, one would have to talk with our students to learn how it impacted them. Or we would look at the actions students took as a result of the coaching they’d received to take meaningful, powerful action as in the following:

• Our Crime and Punishment class interviewed the author of a book on wrongful imprisonment and the justice or lack thereof in our justice system. (intentionality)
• Students developed 100 Youth Voices (see our Winter Planet), an event for young people to discuss and provide input about a very important local issue. (citizenship)
• In Winter, students ventured to Thailand where they taught in a remote school, studied at a monastery, and learned about the impacts of tourism. (authenticity)
• A group of students challenged themselves in Personal Wellness class, and were surprised at their capabilities in distance running and gourmet cooking. (ownership)
• Several students made dramatic growth in their martial arts skills, despite having to spend the first three weeks building their own training mat. (necessary effort)
• Student leadership was particularly significant on our two backpacking expeditions, both of which included terrain we had never before traveled. (taking initiative)

Explorations Academy students take their actions to the next level, and not only practice but demonstrate powerful action to a level we wish all adults could manifest. We are very proud of them, and honored to be crafting experiences to nurture leaders for positive change.

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