dwj-digest (Diana Wynne Jones) V1 #929

Allison Marles apm at alumni.uwaterloo.ca
Mon Dec 20 19:25:18 EST 2004

On Wed, Dec 15, 2004 at 07:17:28PM -0000, 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!).

One of the biggest arguments against the streaming is that kids perform
how you expect them to, and particularly if you stream kids at age 12 
when there's still a lot of maturity variation, you're likely going to
shove some kids who would otherwise do well into believing that their
intelligence is all decided.  That said, it's really important to have
opprotunities for both the slow ones and the bright ones.   I think 
it's not the bright ones hurt by streaming, but the normal-slow ones.
The bright ones probably get the most advantage since usually in a 
mixed environment, the teacher teaches for the slowest so no one gets
lost and the bright ones are super bored.

In my hometown, they have an "academically talented" program that you
can be recommended for and there's tests and other stuff I have
forgotten.  Basically, if you get chosen, you are invited to go to a new
class for gr.4-8 (ages 11-14) that is all "academically talented" kids.
I was part of this program, and I am sure I was less bored than if I'd
been in the regular classes (there were "normal" classes at the school
in addition to the "actal" stream).  But the funny thing is that I had
the worst teachers in my entire education during those 4 years.  

In the highschool I went to, there were 3 streams that you could mix and
match for different subjects (modified, regular, enriched), and there
was also an Advanced program that was one level above enriched and 
covered some core subjects, leaving you free to do the mix-n-match on
the others.  This system meant no one was stuck with all enriched or
all modified unless that's really what suited them best, and I think
that was appropriate for the older age group.

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