Homework. Why is it all so important anyway? After all the hours you devoted to it, you barely remember any of it. Had it not been for your child having to go through elementary school as you had once, you would have been content to live without ever having to experience any of the information again. So, once again, why are children subjected to this? What is to be gained?
At Long-View Micro-School, we have committed to rethinking school, which also means that we have committed to rethinking homework. We do not assign homework at Long-View, but instead we create a learning experience that will prompt kids to leave the learning community each day with a desire to know more about the ideas they have explored, furthering their own learning through independent study and/or simply initiating conversations about their learning with parents, siblings, and friends.
It is our belief that children are innately curious beings -- questioning, wondering, experimenting, conjecturing -- all without the prompting of adults. In establishing Long-View, we were determined to know exactly what would happen when adults actually expected young children to act as learners, to act as their naturally curious selves, and not just as students, or persons whose learning comes primarily from being under the tutelage of another.
Viewing children as learners, the adults at Long-View put forth ideas, knowing that children, just as adults, will feel compelled to further explore them; that is, kids will make attempts to fully comprehend the ideas and determine the merits, and then will be eager to share their understandings with others. Thus, we study mathematics and science as ideas and practices. The ideas compose a coherent body of knowledge which help humanity to make sense of the universe, and the practices and ways of thinking allow greater access to the ideas as well as the development of new ones. Computer Science is explored as a way of thinking that parallels the thinking in mathematics and provides a means by which to understand problems and formulate solutions. Reading and writing skills are developed through intense, authentic applications for the purpose of accessing and communicating important ideas.
These efforts allow Long-View learners to see themselves as individuals who have the capacity to facilitate their own learning. Our learners do the work of mathematicians, scientists, computer scientists, readers, and writers. Long-View learners develop questions, believe that there are answers, and more important, they believe that they are capable of devising the solutions. Of their own volition, they initiate and design tasks that cause them to dig deep in order to acquire the information and solutions that they desire. This could never be the by-product of traditional schooling that assigns homework which emphasizes the memorization of discrete facts and promote other low-level skills. Thus, homework at Long-View is real work; it is the process of learning -- a never-ending quest to make sense of the universe, the process by which individuals are able to deepen their understandings or develop new ones. This kind of work cannot be assigned, for it simply is our constant work: it is our humanity.