The idea of “mixed age” or “undergraded” primary classrooms gained some national popularity in the late 1950s and sixties, then faded; it is once again being discussed as part of school reform. The pleasant, productive chaos of Rooms 13 and 14 at Franklin Elementary belied the boldness of Anne and Abby’s experiment, for what they were doing challenged one of the most widespread practices in elementary education: setting cognitive and linguistic benchmarks for children’s development.Through this year, students at Clear Spring School have been in classroom groupings of 1st and 2nd, 3rd and 4th, 5th and 6th, 7th and 8th, etc. This next year, we are changing to a Montessori grouping of three grade levels in each class. This nearly completely removes the pressures that result from having only a brief window for growth, allowing children to grow outwardly in response to inner development rather than as set by standards and external expectations. In many classrooms, if a child's development does not conform to specific norms, he or she may be viewed as lacking in intelligence or lazy and accept other's assessments of him or herself as such, when it is really the system that is at fault. I have told the story of Procrustes before.
“Children just don’t learn to read or write or count or compute at the same time,” Abby said in exasperation. “There’s all kinds of normal variation. Some kids don’t really start reading until the second grade, and they go on to become fluent readers.” Yet the anxiety that can be generated when a child doesn’t hit one of these arbitrary benchmarks—especially among some affluent parents who attach great significance to such measures—is considerable and can lead to a range of remedial interventions, some more harmful than helpful.
Saturday, June 20, 2009
mixed or undergraded classrooms.
The following is from Mike Rose's blog post of Jun 11, 2009: