My Own Hero's Journey
I excelled as a student. That is, I breezed through K-12, graduated valedictorian and picked the University of my choice as promised. It wasn’t until fall of my freshman year as a biology major at Santa Clara University, that it all came crashing down. Advanced calculus and organic chemistry quickly illustrated that there were gaping holes in my understanding and that I had never actually learned how to learn. I was so used to regurgitating the “right” answer that when I was asked to come up with my own solution, I was completely lost.
I took this revelation with me to Teacher’s College and I tried to figure out how to make my classrooms different than what I experienced growing up. As a science teacher it was natural to pose a question and allow for experimentation, but in math I had so much content that I was mandated to get through, that it often became keep up or get left behind. Grades and assessment also were the number one motivator for my students and I could tell that fear of making a mistake was a terrifying prospect, instead of a way to grow. How could I teach my students to persevere, think for themselves, and take pride in their own unique outlook when the establishment was doing everything to prove the opposite? Sit. Regurgitate. Test. Repeat. I was done.
When I left my job to raise our children I decided that I didn’t want a traditional education for them. As the daughter and sister of public school teachers I have always had respect for the public system, but felt that my daughter wouldn’t fit in a regular model. After a failed attempt in preschool, my husband and I made the decision that I would homeschool our kids going forward. While they flourished academically, I missed the scaffolding that occurs when students collaborate.
After my daughter gained entrance into a program in our public board, we decided to give traditional schooling another shot. Our three children were in the public board for only two years and I watched their creativity and love for learning drain away. My daughter felt her artistic side wasn't valued and my sons became frustrated and bored realizing that they weren't allowed to work at their own pace. I once again began researching alternative pedagogical methods and really found allies in Salman Khan, Sir Ken Robinson, John Taylor Gatto, Oliver DeMille, and Clark Aldrich. In his work, The One Room Schoolhouse, Sal Khan echoed so many of my core beliefs that my passion to change education was re-ignited.
Once I made up my mind to pursue opening a school in Ottawa, I toured multiple programs in the California Bay Area including; The Khan Lab School, Summit Public, Rocketship, and Nueva. It wasn't until I visited The Infinity School, an Acton Academy affiliate in London, Ontario, that I found the perfect fit. Watching the students guide their learning, self-regulate, collaborate, and care for one another, I teared up. This was the program I had been searching for as an educator and as a mother.
I immediately went home and began the application to open an Acton Academy affiliate here in Ottawa. Through hard work, passion, and an incredibly supportive network, we opened Revel Academy's doors this September. We currently have two studios and three guides working to change education in Ottawa. We now have an educational option that I believe in and I am so excited for my children and every kid who walks through our doors.
Revel Academy believes that all who enter our doors are on their own hero's journey. We accept challenges, feel that risks are valuable, and believe that through perseverance and creativity we will be able to overcome and truly change the world. At Revel we learn to learn, learn to do, and learn to be.
Erin Anderson - Founder and Head of School