+ What is your policy on homework?
Middle schoolers need time after school to connect with friends and family, to explore learning interests, to get sufficient sleep, and to have unstructured periods in which they have to learn how to manage their time and activities. Getting lost in a book, shooting hoops for hours, talking with friends or helping to cook dinner at home are extremely rich activities for healthy adolescent development. Accordingly, assigning students hours of homework each night, particularly if it includes repetitive worksheets, is not part of our academic philosophy.
That said, we think some homework can be helpful. It’s important for students to learn to manage their time and manage projects. This means that students may want or need to work on a school project after school hours. For all students this will be necessary from time to time. Our aim is to keep the homework level moderate and free of busywork. In practice this means that homework rarely exceeds 1 hour per night, with some variation around major projects or presentations.
+ How much technology is used at school?
We are tremendously excited by many of the ways in which technology is changing learning, with content and learning tools in virtually every subject available in seconds, and the opportunity to easily connect with students and experts around the world. Fluency with this technology is an essential 21st century skill.
At the same time, part of mastering technology is learning when not to use it; how to judge the quality of information provided online; when to set our technology aside and focus on the quality of human relationships. Accordingly, we aim to use technology to support richer relationships, not to replace those relationships with screen time.
Millennium students have technology available to them whenever needed, through school-provided Chromebook laptops. On any given day they may use these tools for a research project, to write an essay, or to have a videoconference with someone relevant to a current project. An introduction to coding and robotics is part of our science curriculum. All that said, if a visitor walks in to a typical project or seminar class, they will most likely see students talking with one another, engaging with faculty or outside experts, not only interacting with technology. Our work is to help students integrate technology appropriately into a life full of rich relationships.
+ Do you have letter grades?
Letter grades are one of the least accurate forms of assessment. They also tend to reduce a student’s own drive to learn, replacing it with external sticks and carrots - while creating needless anxiety by constant comparison. Indeed, grades are increasingly not used by progressive middle schools and not required by many high schools. (For a great read on why grades and similar measurements can be so problematic, see Alfie Kohn’s wonderful book "Punished by Rewards.") We believe there are far more accurate and motivating ways to measure learning – see our blog post, Our Take on Assessment.
+ How are you addressing the Common Core standards?
We integrate Common Core standards into our curriculum design, both for their own value and to make sure that Millennium graduates who attend public high school will be able to thrive there. That said, we don’t see the Common Core as a sufficient goal in itself; we weave it into our interdisciplinary curriculum, rather than designing the curriculum around the Common Core.
+ Do you offer athletics at Millennium?
Yes! It’s essential that students have time to move their bodies, learn good sportsmanship and teamwork, and develop a high level of body awareness, able to tell what makes them feel healthy and vibrant. We’ve designed this into our curriculum in ways big and small, from longer break times between periods so that students can move around and return refreshed and ready to learn, to an innovative PE curriculum based around aikido and other practices to develop students’ kinesthetic intelligence.
As a feature of our interim home at the Don Fisher Clubhouse, all Millennium students are automatically members of the Boys & Girls Club, which offers an array of after-school sports, from an award-winning basketball team to a swim program at the Clubhouse's indoor pool. Many Millennium students take advantage of these opportunities. We also offer swim classes during the school day as part of our PE program.
We arrange our schedule to make sure that students can participate in after-school club sports, which is an active area for many current Millennium students. Finally, as we grow as a school, we expect to join a local athletics league, likely the San Francisco Athletics League.
+ Is Millennium School for-profit or non-profit?
Millennium School is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Our mission is to realize the transformative potential of middle school. We count on both tuition income (using our Flexible Tuition approach to create a diverse and inclusive class) and charitable fundraising to support the school.