Step Two: Case Studies

Please respond to the three scenarios described below, including your thought process behind each answer.  Also, include specific questions you would ask or any phrasing you might use with the children--keeping in mind all Acton guides use the Socratic method. Please send your responses through the form below or via email ( with the title of the subject: (Your name) Guide Case Studies.

Scenario 1:  

It is the second month of school and the elementary students have discussed, voted upon and signed their studio promises and contract.  Among other things, they have agreed not to distract one another during Core Skills time and never to speak sarcastically to one another.  However, almost right away, Core Skills time becomes noisy and chaotic.  Two or three students are frustrated by this, but their calls for order are at best humored only momentarily and at worst met by sarcastic remarks from other students. How do you respond, and how can this situation be strategically useful in guiding them toward greater ownership of the studio and their chosen rules?

Scenario 2:  

Toward the end of the first session, most students are proficient in setting goals for themselves during Core Skills time. However, you notice that a particular student who has a passion for writing has been neglecting to set goals in math.   How do you maintain a Socratic posture while helping to guide him toward balance?

Scenario 3:  

The Quest the students are working on calls for them to work in small groups based on their area of interest.   One group of four is working on a nature magazine including articles, photographs, and a comic strip.  Observing them during project time, it becomes apparent that the group contains two very strong personalities, one of whom tends to want her hands in everything, often taking over tasks allocated to other members of the group.  The other strong personality is the critic, tending to be bossy but not inclined to do much work.  Of the other two, one defers to the stronger personalities for the sake of peace, while the other simmers in quiet resentment but cannot seem to constructively voice her frustration.   It is unclear, day to day, who is responsible for what or where exactly the project is going. How can you, as a guide, use this as a strategic opportunity to guide them toward new processes or social skill sets without taking away their agency?