Originally Posted by newmom22
We are not talking about your high school English class here.
No, we're talking about a FAR more important grade than the one I teach, one that sets the tone for a child's school experience to follow.
You gave me a scenario in which a highly gifted child was in a regular Kindergarten classroom. I’m not sure I’d want to see what a Kindergarten that offered no socialization or play time looked like. Definitely not something I’d want to be involved in.
, I'm crying foul because this is out of bounds. You're engaging in a straw man fallacy, specifically where you accuse me of an extreme position (e.g., "no socialization") and attack me for having this extreme position. Nope, dirty pool and I'm callin' you on it.
Here's what I actually said: "I don't think class time is primarily for socialization at all, though that might occur. I think it's primarily for learning and practicing new knowledge and skills.
A few things:
1. Notice how I did not say "no" socialization.
2. The primary
job of a school is to educate: that is, to impart and practice new knowledge and skills. It is not to socialize.
3. The agents of socialization are not the government.
They are the child's parents and family, friends and relatives, associates, co-worshipers, and others whom the family includes and with whom the child interacts. It is not the job of a hired government employee to socialize a child.
|I think we disagree on what it looks like IRL to have a cooperative learning environment in a Primary classroom.
Sorry, but the "You don't know what you're talking about, so my argument is unassailable" method won't work here either, because despite the fact that I do teach high school, my mother, brother, SIL, and others are primary-school teachers and therefore I'm more than merely passingly familiar with cooperative grouping at the primary level and how and why it works and why it doesn't.
|Frankly, if you have not seen it in action it would be hard to describe the beauty and rhythm of the children all working and playing together. We all learn from one another. It is no different with children. They observe, listen and copy one another all the time. (With good and bad results!) Some children seek out opportunities to teach their peers and others shy away for various reasons. I think peer tutoring works wonderfully if everyone involved is agreeable and willing.
But it is unethical to do it as a substitute for learning
and as a way of keeping a highly gifted child occupied. Moreover, it is unprofessional for one good reason: it doesn't work
I regret that I am apparently calling into question a dearly-held part of your teaching philosophy, specifically the idea that children of all ability ranges can be successfully accomodated in a heterogeneous classroom, specifically yours. I am absolutely sure that the techniques of collaborative learning and peer tutoring have worked well almost all of the time with few if any exceptions during the entirety of your career, and that makes perfect sense: for the kids in the center of the bell curve and to a little left and right, it does
work pretty well if it's well-managed, and I'm assuming yours are.
However, kids like Hypothetical Johnny change the rules. It's like quantum physics: the ideas we held to be immutable truths in the macroworld don't work at the quantum level, and it's the same with highly gifted kids. Techniques that always worked with other kids fail bitterly with them; grouping ideas that always worked don't work, and so on. I don't blame you for thinking inclusion will work, like I said, because statistically speaking, a teacher might teach for an entire career and never even once
have a child at the level of a Hypothetical Johnny in her class, ever. I can't blame you for thinking that what works with every other kid will work with him. Unfortunately, though, it won't.
|Remember we are talking about a Kindergarten class here, these kids are not teaching their peers abstract or difficult concepts. They often simply seek to clarify what may not have been understood the first time.
I know that this is just a conversation about a topic that has no definitive answers, but it distresses me how pessimistic everyone seems to be. I know many, many teachers who work day and night to ensure their students needs are being met. (And yes, I’m aware that not all needs can be met all the time…) Perhaps the situation is much worse in America, but I’ve (thankfully) always worked in schools with terrific parental support. I can’t imagine how disheartening it would be to be constantly bombarded with negative stereotypes about your chosen profession.
Regrettably, the reason negative stereotypes become stereotypes at all is because they tend to be true for people more often than not. With sincere regret, I say that one of my negative stereotypes has been abundantly confirmed, specifically that teachers with a HG kid in their classroom basically turn them into peer tutors or have them work on their own while the teachers aid the struggling learners. In the meantime, the HG kid learns almost nothing.
This is unethical, plain and simple. Every child, regardless of ability, deserves to learn new content and skills in a classroom, but from the data you've presented, that's really not what would happen to a HG kid in your classroom. Unfortunately, this stereotype is one very strong reason why many parents of HG kids I know both IRL and OL are homeschooling their children: they want their children to learn new stuff
Listen, you may never have a kid like that. Probably not. I'd lay money on your never having a kid like that even if you keep teaching full-time for the next forty years. However, if you ever do, what I am sincerely hoping with all my heart is even if you never remember this conversation at all, that you say to yourself, "So, what new
skills and knowledge can I teach this child?" and seek to address that very ZPD you began this conversation by invoking.
Best of luck. I mean that.