QOTW 'age thinking'

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Registered: 02-14-2009
QOTW 'age thinking'
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Fri, 02-18-2011 - 6:58am

This week I saw a very inspiring talk of Sir Ken Robinson on TED online, about creativity and motivating talented children in education. He said something that made me just about applaud to my computer screen:

Why is there this assumption that the most important things kids have in common is how old they are? It's like the most important thing about them is the date of manufacture! (as opposed to interests, skills, attitudes...)

Raising gifted children has made me conclude quite a few years ago that the structural 'age thinking' in our educational system is not doing these children a big favor. That the classification of developmental stages by age groups is often too narrowly defined... I realize my kids may well be 'extreme exceptions', and there are other kids that are exceptions on the other end of the spectrum, otherwise 'the average' wouldn't be where it was. But even when we discuss acceleration here on the board, we are influenced by this age thinking... Sir Ken Robinson just pointed out so eloquently to me how arbitrary categorization by age actually is...

What are your thoughts on this? Do you believe 12 yr olds should remain with 12 yr olds as much as possible because that's the best match there is, if not academically than at least socially? Or do you think a 10 yr old could have much more in common with a 13 yr old and it's only society/school that keeps their worlds so unnaturally seperated?

Suzanne

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Avatar for skystrider
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Registered: 06-14-1999
Fri, 02-18-2011 - 7:28am

As a homeschooler, my children have always had friends and taken classes with people of a wide variety of ages.

Avatar for turtletime
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Registered: 05-13-1998
Fri, 02-18-2011 - 12:09pm

I doubt you'll find many here that feel age is the determining factor in a relationship.

There are SO many types of friends to be had. DD 14

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Registered: 04-09-2006
Fri, 02-18-2011 - 1:04pm

An article in the New York Times a couple of days back described recent research on bullying. Researchers asked students to list their five best friends, and also acts of bullying in which they themselves were the recipient, and those of which they were the perpetrator. The researchers concluded that, while we often think that bullies target atypical students, most bullying happens as students try to establish status. The top 2% of students in the social hierarchy tended to not be bullies, but researchers couldn't say if that was because they'd already established their status, or because they were exceptionally nice to start with and everyone liked them.

So, kids bully others of the same age to gain status. Maybe we should change our educational paradigms entirely. I mentioned to my husband that I've never seen a bullying incident at the multi-age Ultimate (frisbee) game that my dh and dd13 play...all homeschoolers. dh responded that it's probably because at least two parents are on the field and can "control" their kids. No, I said....my kids all used to play recreational soccer with roughly the same parent/kid ratio, and there was always some kid tripping another, saying nasty stuff, and deliberately fouling another player. And...when the homeschoolers go for ice cream after the game and the adults talk while the kids play various games of their own invention, the kids don't bully one another. They are friends, not rivals.

Deborah

Avatar for turtletime
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Registered: 05-13-1998
Fri, 02-18-2011 - 1:38pm
We haven't seen any bullying in purprosely multi-aged environments. We have certainly seen bullying in situations where only 1 age range is supposed to be represented but due to parental choices, 2 are actually present. One example, my DS turned 10 late last fall and is in 5th grade. He is the only child who started 5th grade at 9 even though he makes the cut-off by 5 weeks. There are some younger female 10's in class but every other boy started at 11 or close too accept for the few who are already starting to turn 12. The bullies have been these older boys from day one. They just don't belong there.

I'm not totally disagreeing with the article, I just feel that it's based on the assumption that everyone in a class is supposed to be there. Once you start building mono-aged classes, allow multi-age kids to attend but continue to TREAT them mono-aged, everything goes off-kilter.
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Registered: 11-18-2008
Fri, 02-18-2011 - 2:34pm

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Registered: 04-09-2006
Fri, 02-18-2011 - 2:47pm
As a seventh grader, I was in a class of about 350 peers in a well regarded school district. Our school district didn't allow redshirting or acceleration...that is, we were all within twelve months of each other. Bullying from same age peers was pervasive.

Deborah
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Registered: 04-16-2001
Fri, 02-18-2011 - 5:41pm

While I agree that kids can have a multitude of friends of different ages and have interests and abilities outside of their age range, with school placement the difficulty is that most kids are not advanced in all parts of their lives.

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Registered: 07-23-2002
Sat, 02-19-2011 - 1:16am

This is the absolutely biggest reason we homeschool. Age-leveled schooling and age-leveled socializing makes no sense to me. It's a simplistic way to try and homogenize kids. But they're not really homogeneous when grouped by age -- not even the apparently "average" kids. And what worse way to learn social skills than to spend the bulk of your time with large groups of people who are no better at them than you are?

Miranda

Miranda
in rural BC, Canada
mom to three great kids and one great grown-up
unschooler, violist, runner, doc 

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Registered: 07-23-2002
Sat, 02-19-2011 - 1:29am

But isn't acceleration just putting a younger child in an otherwise age-leveled classroom? That's a little like what turtletime described with the redshirting: bending the rules to put a kid or two or five in a different grade, but treating the group as if they're an age-levelled group. Expecting social and academic needs to be evenly matched and such. I think that if you can break down that expectation of homogeneity entirely great things are possible. It's a very different style of teaching, of course, and inexperienced / skeptical / unmotivated teachers will not handle it well. But for those who are excited by the opportunities, I think one-room-schoolhouse-style classrooms would be a great idea to dust off.

Miranda

Miranda
in rural BC, Canada
mom to three great kids and one great grown-up
unschooler, violist, runner, doc 

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Registered: 04-16-2001
Sat, 02-19-2011 - 11:11am

Miranda, your life works really well for your family and your small community and I admire how well you have mixed unschooling with

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