dwj-digest (Diana Wynne Jones) V1 #929

deborah.dwj at suberic.net deborah.dwj at suberic.net
Wed Dec 15 14:58:21 EST 2004

On Wed, 15 Dec 2004, Dorian E. Gray wrote:
|The US education system always seems very weird to me, because it's so very
|different from the Irish one.  Here, primary schools (age 4 to 11) have
|mixed-ability classes, but once you start secondary school at age 12, you're
|"streamed".  I can see the argument for not streaming and how kids might
|feel inferior if they're in a lower stream, but on the other hand, surely in
|a mixed-ability class the bright kids are bored and the slow ones are lost
|(and still feeling inferior!).

The United States is really very non-monolithic once you get past the
basics (Elementary School followed by either Middle School or Junior
High -- they're different -- followed by high school followed by two- or
four-year college).

As for the arguments against streaming, it's not a matter of
self-esteem, it's that the low-stream classes are taught as what Otter
(I think) described as babysitting.  Slam the ADHD kids, the dyslexic
kids, the healthy but slightly slower kids, the kids whose parents are
uninvolved and who don't have any innate brilliance to make up for it,
the kids whose English is poor but not poor enough for special
classrooms, and the genuinely bad kids in one classroom.  Control the
behaviour of the ADHD and the genuinely bad kids.  Call it a day.

It's not that teachers don't try, it's that how can you teach 35 kids
with 10 different special needs if you're given the same facilities as
the teacher who's teaching 35 kids who, by age 10, are already cramming
for Harvard?  Everyone loses but the top stream.  Most of us here seem
to have been top stream, and so we won -- but I'd love to have a few more
people who, say, didn't learn to read quite as quickly.  What are we
missing by the absence of the ADHD folks?  And yes, Jacob, if you're
reading, that was asking you to post again as you haven't forever.  So
there.  :P  *grin*

If someone here was tracked and not into top track, and doesn't mind
talking about it, that would add salt to the conversation.  ;)

In high school -- tiny private school for smart kids -- I bounced back
and forth between the two top math streams because the top was over my
head (how many math classes for 14 year olds discuss cardinalities of
infinities and metamath?) and the second was taught at the level of the
slowest people in the class.  Once again, it's a problem of scale.

*sigh*  Why can't it be *easy*?

ObDWJ: Which DWJ teacher would you want teaching you?  Mr. Wentworth, Mr.
Crossley, Corkoran, Flury, Dr. Wilander, Miss Bell, and on and on?  For
me, Flury, no question.

What does it matter whether we hang,
If we've learned a little wisdom?	-- _Jade_, Sally Watson

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