“The circle is a universal symbol with extensive meaning. It represents the notions of totality, wholeness, original perfection, the Self, the infinite, eternity, timelessness, all cyclic movement, God. God is a circle whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere” – Hermes Trismegistus
Imprimis – “Adverb. From the first things. First, known use found in the 15th Century. From the Latin in primis meaning ‘among the first'” – Merriam-Webster Dictionary
Life happens in circles at Acton Imprimis Salado. From the first day of our first session, the lions and lionesses have sat in circles with their guides, on the floor, and held discussions. These discussions are prime times for not only depth of learning to occur, but for the tribe members to really get to know each other in more than superficial ways. Plus, everyone can see each other, like really see each other. We see the hesitations, the deep breaths, the ease or intensity of courage it takes to share one’s thoughts with the group. Our Socratic discussions take us deep into our thoughts, our personalities, our faith walks, and our struggles. From what I have witnessed during my time as a middle school guide when the tribe hits the floor, greatness arises.
It took a while for the greatness to arise.
The first few circles where we were discussing anything, and I mean anything, there was a lot of hesitation. I could tell that these lions/lionesses were looking and searching for the “right answer.” They were watching my face to see if I agreed with them. They were hesitant to disagree with each other. They were trying to find support for their opinions through the validation of others, instead of just being confident in their own logic. There was a sense of fear. Fear of sharing. Fear of being wrong. Fear of nobody agreeing…
That was just four weeks ago. Yet, it now seems so far away.
The tribe began to see that although they disagreed about various topics, they are still bonding. There are no hurt feelings. There are no negative repercussions for not agreeing. There is acceptance of each other’s heroic journey, personality, opinions, and self. There is diversity in sync which leaves a much more harmonious footprint than the monotone of conformity in motion. There’s real-life instead of false pretenses. Within the circle, there is courage. With courage, greatness is rising.
Greatness in thought. Greatness in how the tribe is bonding. Greatness in mystery (to me) to see how far these incredible young men and women go this year as they let go of the chains that they got so used to carrying. Being chained to a desk. Being chained to an image. Being chained to having to “only know the right answer” or being chained to having to agree with others or else be exiled from “their group.”
Yet, there was another chain that I wasn’t expecting: The Testing Chain.
You see, Wednesday and Thursday my heroes stepped up and embraced their first IOWA-10 standardized test. They tested in the mornings, worked in the afternoons, and ended our test together with a popsicle party. When we first gave the students the test, unexpectantly for them and their parents, there was a big question mark on top of many of their heads. They were like, “You mean, we get to take a test without you having to teach us all year about what is or is not on the test?” Yes. Really? Yes. (Faces of shock).
They took their tests like champs. Yet, my middle schoolers were still a little bit curious about why we’re not making a big deal about the test. I asked them what did they mean to which they responded:
“It’s all we’re taught all year.”
“Our teachers say, ‘ This is on the test!’ to us all year long”
Well, not here. Not at Acton Imprimis Salado. We’ll teach you to think. To grow up. To gain maturity in both intellect & wisdom, in social circles, and in Socratic ones, and we’ll definitely teach you to think critically and objectively. Because, if you know how to think correctly, you can ace any test. I will never limit your educational experience to the standards of a test. You are meant to soar. You are meant to thrive. There’s more to life than just standardized testing, and we’ll do our best to prepare you for that part young lions/lionesses. You’ve been freed from your cages of oppression. There is so much power in our circles!
I cannot wait to watch you roar!