The kids’ school – Prakriya – is starting an experiment with Multi/Mixed Age Classes. There’s understandably a lot of questions, excitement, apprehension. I thought it might help to put together a bunch of resources that explore this as one faces this.
- Wikipedia : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multi-age_classroom
- A “why it works article” : http://www.kidsource.com/kidsource/content4/mixed.age.group.pn.html
“She writes that ‘Although humans are not usually born in litters, we seem to insist that they be educated in them.’ In most families children are born one at a time, and if the parents opt to have more than one child, the children are spaced out over a few years. In the home, the older children help the younger ones with certain tasks. In this helping relationship, the younger and older children work together to help the younger learn new skills.”
- The risks esp towards the “common denominator” : http://www.educate.ece.govt.nz/learning/curriculumAndLearning/Learningenvironments/ThirdTeacher/MixedAgeSettings.aspx
- From a study which finds no negative impact :
“On the issue of mixed-age classes, there is no evidence that such groupings (sometimes called ‘vertical grouping’) have any negative effects on children’s attainment, and much evidence of social benefits – increases in cooperation, improved relationships, reduction in anxieties about learning and improved self esteem for less-able older children in the class. Teachers, however, tend to dislike working with mixed-age classes.”
- This study also finds insignificant impact of smaller class sizes on quality of education delivered except in the earlier years.
- A parent’s personal experience (largely positive, with open questions and research) and comments : http://scienceofmom.com/2013/04/02/mixed-age-preschool-benefits-and-challenges/
- A worst case scenario (and followup discussion) : http://www.netmums.com/coffeehouse/children-parenting-190/primary-school-age-4-11-years-60/263036-promblems-my-sons-mixed-age-class-year-3-4-a-all.html
- Views from multiple teachers : http://primaryresourcecentre.myfreeforum.org/archive/mixed-age-classes-your-opinion-needed__o_t__t_12233.html
- Krishnamurti Schools’ experience while transitioning to this : http://journal.kfionline.org/issue-4/learning-in-mixed-age-groups-how-we-made-the-transition
I’m not firmly in either camp, but at this point overall positive about mixed age schooling. I buy the idea that kids aren’t built the same way and have similar approaches and abilities to learn even inside same-age classrooms – and this just forces the teacher to think of individual ability rather than assume a common average. Of course, a lousy teacher can be a lousy teacher in either case, and that won’t change. Younger kids might find more role models and challenges, and older kids will surely learn a lot more empathy. A good teacher should be able to keep everyone challenged in any case.