Sunday, 17 January 2016

A controversial discussion - the first for me in 2016.

A recent post in the Facebook NZ Primary Teachers Group got me wondering about whether some teachers would ever get over the industrial model of schooling.  The post started with a question as to whether it was acceptable for a year 5 student to be promoted to year 7, as the poster had heard that this was happening to a child.

I am disappointed to say that the post has now been removed, so either someone became abusive or the instigator of the discussion withdrew the post, maybe because it was too controversial.  So I have to try and reconstruct it from memory rather that actual postings but it went somehow like this.

My reply to the first question was that it was fine and that the child could simply be thought of as working at an advanced level.  Not "missing a year or two".  Other contributors came into the discussions and said that the child would probably be too immature to be able to cope at the next level(s).  They said there would or could be an emotional and social toll on the child and that a number of factors needed to be considered like friends at that level.

I suggested that grouping all students together, based on their age, was an artificial concept anyway (arising from the industrial model that Sir Kenneth Robinson talks about in this video.  We are still educating children in batches. (Check it out around the 6 minute mark).  The most important thing about kids is NOT how old they are.  Sir Ken is saying it is time to change the paradigm and I agree.

I posted in the Facebook that it happens in work, that people of different ages work together and it works fine there.  But this was met with opposition as there was "not a lot of difference between a 30 and a 32 year old working together."  But sometimes there is, of course.  Sometimes, colleagues of the same age can be quite immature, and others more mature.

The question to me is about should the child work at the same level as their age counterparts or should they work at the level which extends their intellectual capacity?  A modern learning environment, MLE or ILE, should allow students of different ages to work together - emotionally or socially disparate they may be.

I so wish the conversation could have continued.  I am very interested in what others think.


  1. Hi Leigh

    Very interested in it too. From experience I have found that anything along these lines is possible and will be successful if all parties ie: home/school are in agreement and also that the child is comfortable in the environment. This is especially so from a relationship point of view. If they are able form good/positive relationships with older/younger children then in my experience it usually works. I currently have a year 8 student in a class of much younger students and it is very successful, there are times when she joins other classes for year 8 things eg: puberty, transition to high school etc. I guess the key things are evereyone on board and everyone working together to make it a success.

    The post you mentioned surprised me from the point of view that it appeared the change had happened without informing or consulting the family.

    Hope this helps.