I am having a conversation with my grade 7 daughter about schooling and learning. She is wondering why kids are limited to being in one grade all of the time, when so many of her classmates are at so many different levels of achievement and varied interests. If she were in charge (!), she would have students grouped according to their level of achievement and interest, not grade level. For example, if a student shows a high level of competency in a subject area or discipline, they should be able to move ahead in their studies. Kids should be able to be in mixed age classes! The special needs kids could be anywhere they wanted to be, based on what is deemed age appropriate, but most other kids should be able to learn in flexible groupings. That’s her thinking. I guess we talk about school a lot at our house.
She’s not talking about differentiating curriculum in one age cohort; rather mixed age, personalized learning. I am wondering about that, too. The other day, I visited a couple of classes to speak about Freedom to Read Week, on the topic of “censorship.” I had a conversation with a grade 12 and grade 8 English class. the grade 8 English class was thoughtful, animated, provocative in their thinking, and many of the students could easily have fit in with a grade 12 curriculum level. It would be interesting to “mix grade” some of the kids depending on the topic, or thematic unit study. Why do we only hold kids in a “carton” according to their age of production? What’s holding us up?