Last week I was very concerned that I had upset some of my Year 10 students by putting them into ‘streamed’ PBL teams and letting the class know about it. See my post here.
Well I felt so bad that I wrote a few tweets belittling myself only to be sent a tweet by my long time twitter friend Darcy Moore. Here is the tweet:
Because I admire, respect and trust Darcy, I clicked on the link he sent me. This is where it led me:
This article didn’t exactly make me feel any better, but it did prompt some deeper reflection on how to address my mistake – and whether I even needed to apologise or explain my reasons behind the streaming. After all, hasn’t a whole school been designed on the very approach I was criticising myself for using?
Here are some of the comments from my PLN about how I should/could address the faux pas with my class:
So armed with 20 copies of the article Darcy sent me, I headed into my Year 10 class to explain away my actions. It was interesting that my prac student Lauren Forner was watching this lesson – she had followed my twitter regret and read my blog post. Her jokes about me justifying my faux pas as though it was part of some experiment on the students were funny, but not true in the least – I made it very clear to the students that I felt I had made a bad decision. Funny thing was, the kids didn’t seem to mind. Well, they didn’t openly admit to the group that they minded anyway.
Our camp-fire discussion about the school in England generated some interesting and suprisingly level-headed yet varied responses. Some of my students felt that they would like to be in a school system that divided students on ability level – they felt that they would be advantaged significantly because they would get better opportunities in the top level. This makes sense. Some students said they would like a streamed system because the education they got would be more tailored to their individual needs – the work would be at their level and they could feel successful. But I think the majority of the class were concerned about what this streaming would do to your psychological and social development. Many felt that being streamed from age 11 was simply unfair. What if you were a late-bloomer? What if you were very capable at 11 but lost focus as you matured? What if you were gifted in one area (like Maths or Science) but struggled in another (like English)?
The biggest reason against streaming was social – surely it isn’t good for students to be looked down upon as ‘less capable’? Surely fights would occur between the houses? Wouldn’t this type of streaming encourage students to behave in ways stereotypical of a certain ‘class’ or ‘intelligence level’? Would it ever be possible to break the mould that the school had forced you into?
I loved this discussion with my students. They were so very mature about schooling. It makes me want to teach ‘The Wave’ when we study ‘Individual and Authority’ later this term. I think they’ll find some interesting parallels between ‘The Wave’ and their own world.