Session 4 Week 5!

“These are the kinds of curious, mysterious, and original minds that often end up making major contributions to our world; to reach their full potential, however, they need the latitude to follow their own oblique, nonstandard paths. That latitude is seldom found in a conventional, box-shaped classroom in which everyone is supposed to be doing the exact same lesson, and “differentness” is generally used as a negative.” 

― Sal Khan

Here are some glimpses in pictures of another amazing week at THA!

This week’s morning launches featured a discussion on motivation and in particular: “Mastery Orientation” vs. “Performance Orientation.” Warriors thought about whether they were driven to learn, grow, and improve (Mastery Oriented) or whether they were motivated by how they were viewed in front of others and so they didn’t feel “behind.” Warriors also discussed identifying the “Truth” (Question of the Year) and if “seeing is really believing” as they learned about “deep fakes” and video editing technology. They also had a discussion on the Quality of the Session – Perseverance and what type of attitude one should have toward failure.

Spark Warrior launches featured topics like kindness, consonant blends, and read “The Invisible String” which probed them to think about how we are all connected to one another.  

This week the Spark Warriors and MS Warriors visited the Dallas World Aquarium and put their knowledge of biology and zoology to the test. As MS Warriors explored, they used a self-created handout to help them observe the animals through the lens of a biologist and apply Tinbergen’s four questions of animal behavior…

Spark Warriors spent most of the week exploring their biome of choice: North America, researching what kind of animals, plants, soil, weather, etc exists in such areas. The Dallas World Aquarium gave them a great chance to observe some of these animals as well as new ones, as they thougth more about habitats, environments, survival, behavior, etc.

Core Skills time is usually a favorite at THA as Warriors work on self-paced challenges and develop mastery in math and language. ES Warriors are in the last stages of completing their own allegories, and MS Warriors are wrapping up their Biology Hero Biographies. It is always awesome to see the self-directed learning of multi-age studios in action every single day!

During Quest time, the MS Warriors and ES Warriors conducted experiments to learn how to extract DNA…

THA Parents working through a challenge at Sanskrit Night!
Basketball has become a favorite free time activity for Warriors ever since they started the Basketball unit during PE!

Warriors are having a blast during Art as they challenge their creativity and artistic abilities!

Can’t wait to see what they put together at their exhibitions!


Session 4 – Week 4

“The human hand allows the mind to reveal itself.”

– Dr. Maria Montessori

Learning that is hands-on and experiential proves to be the most powerful, and forms the basis for the revolutionary learning at THA. Check out our ES and MS Warriors engaging in the awesome, hands-on Quest challenges from this week!

In alignment with Dr. Montessori’s vision, everything in the Spark Studio is hands-on by design! Moving from the concrete to the abstract as she would say!

The Launches were amazing! We had various Socratic discussions:

Hope you enjoy the rest of the pictures! Hard to believe there are only two weeks left in the session and the exhibitions are approaching soon. Hope to see you there!

Session 4 – W3

“Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”

– Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

This week’s launches (for the ES and MS Studios) featured Socratic discussions on a variety of topics: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., his legacy, his message, etc., what does it mean to be great?, a discussion on deforestation (related to the biology quest and “plant week” in the MS studio), a “studio life” discussion in which Warriors evaluated their relationships within the studio and discussed questions like: “Am I making a positive impact on the people around me? Am I growing in my friendships, in my respect and love for those around me?” Warriors also discussed the criteria potential Warriors who are applying to THA should meet.

As always, Quest time was a huge highlight. The ES Warriors started drawing conclusions from their analysis of all the evidence and started to “crack the case” for their investigations. They also loved the visit from the Expert: retired Fort Worth Sergeant and Detective who is currently a private investigator, Mr. Skeeter Anderson. After hearing about his Hero’s Journey and forensic science insights, the Warriors bombarded him with several wide-ranging questions. We are truly grateful for his time. (see pictures at the end of this blog).

MS Warriors continued their Biology Quest as they journeyed through plant week. They conducted various experiments to witness capillary action and osmosis in plants, they learned about Gregor Mendel, about Norman Borlaug – “the man who saved a billion lives,” discussed controversial topics like Stem Cell research and GMOs, and capped the week of with a “Socratic Smackdown” discussion game.

Spark Warriors also continued on their Biology Quests by diving deeper into the anatomy of various animals, and capping off the week by exploring biomes. One of their biggest highlights, according to their own words during Friday’s closing group, was that they loved going outside during Quest time to gather samples from nature to understand biomes.

Art and Sanskrit were also such a blast, as was the Basketball Unit in PE! Not to mention the Writer’s Workshop and Genre challenges for ES and MS Warriors, the Arts and Crafts after-school activity, an extremely productive Warrior-led town hall meeting, amazing conflict-resolution conversations led by the Warrior Council, reflective closing group discussions, Buddy Time on Fridays, an incredibly focused Core Skills environment, and so much more! It’s hard to believe that we’re already halfway through Session 4!

Hope you enjoy some pics from the week!

S4 – Week 2

Here are some glimpses of week 2 in pictures…

This week Spark Warriors finished up the first challenge in their quest: Classification. They explored several biology related topics including living vs. non-living things, the 5 kingdoms, animals vs. plants, vertebrate vs. invertebrates, etc. Next week they will dive into biomes!
ES Warriors Tournament Champions for the week. This week’s tournament was based on Quest trivia questions.
MS Warriors spent the week exploring microbiology and the basic unit of all living things: cells! They studied the anatomy of a cell, the different functions, proteins vs. enzymes, prokaryotic vs. eukaryotic cells, plant cells vs. animal cells, learned about inspiring biologists like Anton Von Leeuwenhoek, debated stem cell research, and so much more! They also created and performed skits representing different cells in front of the Spark Warriors. It was such a fun week!
ES Warriors spent the week diving deeper into their Forensic Science based quest as they learned about and conducted finger print analyses, handwriting analyses, foot print analyses, sharpening their problem solving abilities by solving minute mysteries, and so much more!
This Friday during Town Hall, the Warriors decided that they wanted to start saying the Pledge of Allegiance. It was such a powerful moment: they stood up, paid respect to our nation’s flag and and honored our country, without any adult telling them that they had to.
Writer’s Workshop Challenge
Spark Warriors engaging in a post-nap art activity!
As always, this week’s Morning Launches were breathtaking. The Warriors learned about Captain Sully Sullenberger and his heroic plane landing on the Hudson River, the epitome of perseverance, which is our Quality of the Session! They also discussed Swami Vivekananda’s journey to America in 1893, whether they are growing in their respect, empathy, care, and friendship with their studio-mates, the government shutdown and dispute over funding for border security, and so much more!
Spark Warriors enjoying MS Warriors perform skits as if they are different types of cells.
Free time!
Drop Everything And Read! (DEAR)
Parent-Led Arts and Crafts Activity! It was such a blast!

More pictures from the week!

S4 – Week 1!

“We want that education by which character is formed, strength of mind is increased, the intellect is expanded, and by which one can stand on one’s own feet.”

– Swami Vivekananda

What an amazing week at THA! The Warriors returned from break and dove right into their daily learning challenges! It was awesome to see them so excited to be back in the studio, enjoying their relationships and so enthusiastic about their learning. They were quick to engage themselves in challenging work, and it was such a joy to see. It reminded us of the intrinsic desire we all have to learn and grow. Of the many highlights, one of the biggest was witnessing their excitement for the new quest of the session.

Our Spark Warriors have set off on a quest to explore the basics of biology, botany, zoology, and biospheres this session.

As our ES Warriors explore our Question of the Year regarding Truth, they have embarked on a Forensic Science based quest, transforming themselves into detectives and exploring a crime scene as they unravel “The case of the missing files!”

The MS Warriors also continued their search for Truth, but this time through a biology based quest. They will venture into the basics of micro-biology, botany, zoology, human anatomy, and ecology. They are currently studying the basics of micro-biology, exploring the various parts and processes of the smallest building blocks of life: cells.

They are also enjoying and embracing their writing challenges, albeit not as enthusiastically as their quest. Here are their WW and Genre Maps…

Here are some more pictures from the week. Enjoy!

Music Mini-Quest Exhibition!

“They alone live, who live for others…”

– Swami Vivekananda

Our THA Warriors wrapped up their Music Mini-Quest with a bang! After spending just one week exploring basic musical concepts like beats, rhythms, pitch, tune, melody, harmony, etc. and completing various challenges like matching a beat, following a rhythm, singing on pitch in a group, creating a stomp, an a acapella, learning the “cup song” beat, etc. our Warriors were given less than two weeks to create their own Holiday show that they would perform as an act of service and gratitude to the elderly and to their parents.

Not only did their show feature a variety of musical performances: singing Christmas songs, a dance to Carol of the Bells, an a cappella, a stomp, and the Spark Warriors singing and dancing, an emotional all-group song (Because You Loved Me)… but what was perhaps most amazing was the fact that, unlike a typical school holiday show, the Elementary and Middle School Warriors created the entire show on their own, from top to bottom. Only our Spark Warriors (ages 3-6) required guides to be more involved. They held auditions, choreographed, held practices, shared feedback, etc.

Their performances at the senior centers left some elders in tears, some with huge smiles on their faces, multiple ovations, an activities director expressing gratitude to our Warriors for giving the greatest gift: time, and an unforgettable moment when an enthusiastic senior got up out of her wheelchair and started dancing during one of our performances. Our Warriors gained a powerful first hand experience of the joy of service, the happiness felt when making others happy. Couldn’t have ended the session on a better NOTE 🙂

As a culmination of their Genre Challenge for this session, the Middle Schoolers finished their “Interview with and Elder” and completed the final drafts of their articles about the experience. Their goal was to unlock treasures of wisdom, knowledge, and experience from an elder in their community. Some of them conducted interviews in-person, while others spoke to grandparents or even great-grandparents out of state or even oversees. The things they learned and the advice they were given is priceless. Cllick here to see a couple examples of their articles!

Other highlights include: the tremendous courage Warriors showed when they auditioned for singing parts in front of all of their studio-mates, the creativity, leadership, patience, and perseverance they showed in organizing and practicing their performances, the insightful feedback they shared during every quest debrief, and the diligence they displayed when reviewing film of their practices…

Some of the many amazing launches and Socratic discussions from the past week included: an inspiring Hero’s Journey launch on Mandy Harvey – who lost her hearing at age 18 but persevered to become a professional singer and musician! A Middle School launch on “Do you know where your food comes from?” using some shocking clips from Food Inc., and other launches on gratitude and service, a closing group on forgiveness at the end of the session, character call-outs, etc. which struck at the core values of The Humanist Academy.

It was also awesome to see the Warriors engage in a Studio Maintenance Deep Clean as we wrapped up the last day of the session.

Can’t wait for Session Four to start in just a couple weeks! Hope you enjoy the pictures!

S3-Week 2!

“Does discipline limit freedom or is discipline the foundation of freedom?”
Elementary and Middle School Warriors engaging in one of several Socratic Discussions this week.

Socratic discussions are a frequent and essential aspect of each day at THA, promoting listening skills, respect for diverse and opposing perspectives, value and character-based exploration, and fostering critical and independent thinking for our heroes from a very early age. Whether it is an inspiring Hero’s Journey related Morning Launch, a thought-provoking Civilization discussion, a challenging Quest Launch (e.g. planning for an exhibition), or a simple debrief after learning activity, the basic formula remains the same: our Socratic Guides pose tough, real-life questions with no right or wrong answer, forcing our Warriors to pick a side, share their perspective, and learn from one another about their choices and beliefs. The impact these discussions have on their decision-making capabilities is paramount.  

Some of the Discussion topics from this week:

“Reaction vs. Response” – After noticing a lot of yelling and heightened emotions in the Studio last week, especially as Warriors gear up for their Exhibition, the guides led a launch on Reacting vs. Responding. They shared a snippet from this article (shared by a THA parent – thank you!) and challenged Warriors to reflect on their own actions: “When someone does something bothersome, breaks the contract, or asks your for an Integrity Point, do you typically react or respond? Why?… What would you rather do?… How can you move toward responding instead of reacting?” 

In their exploration of the Question of the Year: “Is Truth discovered or created?” Warriors engaged in a discussion on “deception” and discussed whether it is a natural part of every day life or something we should consciously avoid? Are there times when deception is okay?etc. This was particularly challenging because they all know important honesty is at THA… Later in the week they also engaged in Hero’s Journey related launch, exploring the life of Ludwig van Beethoven and discussing what was most inspiring. Warriors also had an amazing discussion on the question above regarding the relationship between discipline and freedom. 

Quest time was quite challenging and fun this week as Warriors were tasked with putting together their musical knowledge of beat, rhythm, pitch, melody, harmony etc. and creating their own Holiday Show. The studio was full of singing, dancing, stomping, and all kinds of “music.” Can’t wait to see it all come together as they perform for seniors at an Assisted Living Center and a Rehabilitation Center this Friday! They’ll also perform next Monday for the THA Community! 

Can’t wait to share all about it next week!

Here are a few snapshots from the week… enjoy!