I am sorry I haven't posted in a while. I will be posting my pictures. Just have not had a chance to download them yet. This week is finals week, then I should have a little more time. LOL. But I thought some of you might like to read a discussion I just posted to my college discussion board for an assignment over classroom management. I had to pick one of the aspects of classroom management listed in the textbook that I agreed with most. So I picked multi-age classrooms. Here's the post, for those interested. :^)
One of my favorite classroom management techniques found in the textbook is organizing a multi-age classroom. This is something that I totally believe in. I just cannot agree with age segregation, even in a classroom environment. Multi-age activities is a concept that we strive for with the unschooling group that I have here in Salina, Kansas. We have children that range in age from two to fourteen, but we always have something that they will all enjoy and learn from. All too often, students are taught to socialize with only others in their own age group at school. By the time they are teenagers, they are only able to socialize with others with whom they are friends. I see the effects of this everyday. When I train teenagers at work, there are so many times that I actually have to explain to them how to tell customers hello or ask how their day is going. Students need to learn real-life socializing techniques, not socialization within their own age bracket.
That said, I also believe that cooperative and collaborative learning can also take place more efficiently in a multi-age classroom. Students learn to work together. Students learn to use their creativity. The older students are not "above" helping younger students. They learn to care for one another instead of forming their own groups and cliques. I believe that multi-age classrooms also encourage more creativity in teaching techniques. Instead of just using explicit, teacher-centered instruction; teachers are able to allow children to learn in a less stressed environment. The use of hands-on activities can be utilized. Students can be treated as individuals instead of as a group.
I can say from experience that a multi-age classroom does work. As I said, we have quite a difference in age groups at our unschooling group activities. This past Monday, in celebration of Read Across America Day, we had a book swap and corresponding activities at the public library. The students ranged in age from one year to ten years old. However, there really was not an activity that did not encourage participation from all. The older ones read to the younger ones. They all played games together. Right now, we are planning our second annual Earthday Celebration for the group. Last year was a huge success. Even traditional homeschoolers joined us. The children made recycled bird houses and planted seeds to take home. I do not remember any of the students that did not join in our activities. The same is true of each or our activities. Even with a recent Valentine's party, all of the students worked together to bake Valentine cookies. They decided amongst themselves which job each person would have in the baking and decorating.
Multi-age classrooms and activities are definitely something that I love about unschooling. I noticed when we were a part of the regular homeschooling co-op here, they also still segregated by age. They were still too involved in standard curriculums and in what they were teaching rather than in what the children would learn. It may take a big "leap of faith," but I honestly believe if more classrooms were able to focus more on learning rather than on teaching; the students would learn so much more. Multi-age classrooms, I believe, are definitely a step in the right direction.
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