New Year Leadership Challenge 1: Same-age grouping

Bluegrass Stockyards

[Instead of just challenge-based learning, how about challenge-based leadership?]

Sir Ken Robinson said in Creative Schools:

The principle of linearity works well for manufacturing; it doesn’t for people. Educating children by age group assumes that the most important thing they have in common is their date of manufacture. In practice, different students learn at different rates in different disciplines. A child with natural ability in one area may struggle in another. One may be equal to older children in some activities and behind younger ones in others. We don’t apply this batching principle outside of schools. We don’t keep all the ten-year-olds away from the nine-year-olds, in separate facilities. This form of segregation mainly happens in schools. (p. 37)

New Year Leadership Challenge 1: Same-age grouping

What could you do as a school leader to hack at the deficiencies of same-age grouping…

  • in the next two weeks?
  • in a one- or two-month spring pilot?
  • in full-force implementation next school year?

[HINT: think some students, not all; some teachers, not all; some blocks of time, not all; some locations, not all; etc.]

Image credit: Bluegrass Stockyards gates, pens, and corrals in black and white; Anthony

3 Responses to “New Year Leadership Challenge 1: Same-age grouping”

  1. I love this challenge, Scott, and hope a lot of leaders will take you up on it. In KY, we have a growing number of schools and districts stepping into this work by personalizing learning and offering learners the opportunity to demonstrate competency in non-traditional, time-bound ways. The stock-yard days of schooling must go!

  2. Awesome challenge for teachers and leaders in schools! It is quite fascinating that as students get older, many students want to follow this norm. Older students feel like they are more superior and above younger students and younger students don’t want to be talked down to by the older students. In my opinion, the change may need to be more consistent and tied back to “school culture” and values.

  3. What you are asking about is often not constrained by the innovation of the school or leadership, but demographics and budget. If you are in a small enrollment school, this is trivial: a school with K-12 in one building can easily group students of similar ability but different ages. If the district has a larger enrollment, you end up with K-2 in one building, 3-5 in another, 6-8, etc, at which point you don’t have ability to combine dissimilar age/similar ability groups, but you may have enough similar ability/similar age to create groups (oh, but that’s tracking, and that’s bad, so we don’t do that, except when we do)

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