Too often, students’ depth of learning is limited by the bells of the class period. At Longview, you have the opportunity to work on projects that can last for days, weeks or even months. Projects often arise out of classes that students have requested. Some recent examples of this are a Maker Class–3D Printing; Publish It–Create your own book, blog, vlog or magazine; Personal Storytelling; Civilization V–Build Your Empire; Woodworking, and many others. Doing projects is much more engaging than traditional assignments because they are interdisciplinary and authentic. Instead of just being limited to one subject area, students propose and complete projects that cross traditional bounds, just like those in the real world. Instead of busywork created by the teacher to have students prove what they know, the projects correspond to the work done by writers, scientists, historians, mathematicians, computer programmers, etc.
A traditional lesson is one in which the teacher presents information to the students in the class, which they listen to, take notes on, and then show understanding of on homework, tests and quizzes. We all have had the experience of memorizing information but then forgetting it soon after a test. That is because for most students, rote memorization is not an effective way of storing information in long-term memory. Inquiry-based instruction looks quite different. Teachers present the students with problems, and in the process of solving them, ask questions, figure out the answers, and look deeply into the issues involved. As they do so, they make the neural connections in their brains so that they not only understand the topic on a much deeper level, but also remember it for much longer, often for the rest of their lives.
At Longview, much of the work you do connects to the real world. In our Real World Math classes, students learn how to create a budget, pay bills for a household, find a place to live, interview for a job, fill out a 1040 tax form, and much more. In our Idea to Income class, students actually start a business, going through the process of planning, launching, and running a business. In our Longview 2.0 class, students learn about interior design by actually planning the rooms in our new building. At Longview, we also believe in creating opportunities for real-world learning outside of the classroom. This is done through our Clerkship system, in which students share all the work of running the school, through our democratic governance, and through our court system. At Longview, you don’t have to wait to graduate from high school for the work you are doing to connect to the real world–that happens each and every week.
The Longview Experience
Many schools claim to have a student government, but too often, these bodies don’t have any real decision-making power. The official not-for-profit corporation known as Longview School is run by its democratic “School Meeting” which is made up of all the current staff and students in the school. This is a body in which every member gets one vote on every issue, be it a kindergartener or the director of the school.
Since there are always more students than teachers in the community, this not only places real power in the hands of students, it gives the students a majority vote. This might sound scary to adults who are unfamiliar with democratic schools, but the truth is, students take this responsibility extremely seriously. We believe Longview’s School Meeting record of decisions compares favorably to elected bodies even at the highest level of our country’s government.
A student’s education cannot be limited to the classroom or even to the school. They need to put their skills to the test by applying them in the real world.
One of the most difficult decisions a student makes in their life is what job they want to try to get. Too often, people make this decision with little experience in their future workplace. Students typically go to college in order to obtain a degree that enables them to get a job in a workplace in which they have never spent time.
At Longview, each student gets an internship, or even a variety of internships, so that they can experience workplaces firsthand. Here a student does not have to wait to graduate from high school for the work you are doing to connect to the real world–that happens each and every week.