In the quest for understanding education, one of the more unusual, and therefore worth understanding approaches is the Waldorf/Steiner schools. Their most interesting oddnesses to me are:
- A cohort which advances together with a teacher. 8 years together. Almost family. Unlike in normal schools...the kids don't really know one another much better than the teacher knows them.
- Pursue the arts, and avoid academics for a LONG time (up to 14 for some subjects)
Most recent datum, cribbed from slashdot, is this one. Summary:
In sum, Benezet showed that kids who received just one year of arithmetic, in sixth grade, performed at least as well on standard calculations and much better on story problems than kids who had received several years of arithmetic training.Go figure. It at least supports the Waldorf, and incidentally the Sudbury/unschooling model. I'm not all the way on board with the approach, though, because I've taught a class of 5th&6th graders algebra...and I've helped tutor kids as young as 8 who did very well in college algebra classes. Regardless, it indicates that the scope of the problem with our current system is much bigger than you thought it was, unless you already think (like me) that public schooling is one of the horseman of the apocalypse.