Wednesday, April 13, 2016

class castes

One of the kid’s teachers has been trying out a new teaching method in class.

The teacher split the class into three groups with labels: Slow, Average and Smart.

Kids being kids, they have modified the labels into Slow-poke, Average and Smarty-pants.

I’m not sure what determinants are taken into consideration. It may be the teacher’s general judgment on ability, how the child performs in class tests, so on and so forth.

What difference does it make in the classroom?

Just based solely on what the kids say (bearing in mind I have not spoken to the teacher), the teacher customizes teaching and homework according to which group the child is in.

So while teaching, the slow ones sit in one row, in front, so the teacher can address them directly. The averages sit in the second row. The smart ones sit behind, where they are sometimes assigned to independently work on their own.

Apparently, the teaching varies. That is, the teacher will use “fewer and simple” words for the slow ones and speak “very fast” to the smart ones.

Homework also varies. The slow ones get to do much less.

What difference does it make to the kids?

One says, “I know I’m slow. I don’t belong to the smarty-pants.”

Another says, “I’m average but aiyah, I want to be slow. I want to do less work.”

Yet another says, “Why am I in the smarty-pants group? I’m not smart at all. I’m in the wrong group and I don’t like all the people in the smart group. My friends are all in the slow group.”

What difference does it make to the parents?

If their child is in the smart group, they may be less inclined to make noise and give their child a pat on the head instead. "Keep it up, boy!" they may say. 

If their child is in the slow group, they are livid, at the label and at the unfairness of it all. They want to complain at the highest level. I can fully understand why. 

I am certain the teacher has good intentions, to teach more effectively at a customized pace, perhaps, because standards in the class may be wildly different.

But results – from what the kids say and how they feel – speak volumes about whether the exercise has been carried out well.

Worse is if the label sticks in the kids' minds, for the rest of their lives. It's like EM1, EM2 and EM3 all over again.


francesca said...

Why do this?????
I found out from my friend's school - the teacher group the class to sun, stars and moon.

Sher said...

i think the labels hurt. without the labels - ie sun stars and moon as you say - maybe its more palatable. but even then, i think kids are intuitive.

Anonymous said...

My daughter's teacher used to group them into group 1,2,3,4 and 5, with 1 bring the strongest group and 5 bring the weakest. As you said, group 1 sat at the back and the teacher barely paid any attention to them, and even got the students in group 1 to help those in group 5 on a regular basis. Of course nobody explicitly mentioned how the grouping was done but all the kids knew.

Anonymous said...

Just to add on that this only happened when she was in P2 - there were simply too many students (around 40) and the teacher couldn't pay attention to every single one of them. But after that they were streamed according to ability anyway ie P3 and upper primary

Min said...

While this helps the teachee to be more effective in teaching, i am not sure how labelling will affect their esteem. That said, we have to be realistic that our kids prob wont all be geniuses.

Anonymous said...

My P4 daughter got streamed into the 2nd last class (out of 5 classes) this year (in a girls' sch). The girls in the last 2 classes know they are in the lousy classes and feel quite crappy about it. They have even heard the girls from the better classes talking badly about them (remarks that show that they look down on them). It's really quite hurting. But what to do? I've to undo the emotional damage and give her more rah-rah pep talks to encourage her regularly. -_-"'