Schools should be streamed, but not by ability

Today I took my daughter to her new school. It was not a very encouraging experience. We spent a long time listening to speeches and explanations that we could not understand (our portuguese is still not that good) and then she was taken away to do activities that were supposed to be fun, but she didn’t find fun at all. I would hope that there might be some corner where she will find herself there, but I am not at all confident that will happen. I find myself full of demands that I wish to make to the school to make it better, and yet I can understand the school’s point of view too. They have to deal with the needs of all the students, and the restrictions of the national curriculum and education system. How can they have the time and energy to give one child everything that they need?

But I have an answer – one that I have never seen put into practice, but is born out of my experiences teaching music over many years. (and some other knowledge from my spiritual education work.) The answer is a kind of streaming. And this at first might seem a strange thing for me to promote. Streaming tends to be a highly competitive system that rewards those with certain talents and is not so supportive of others who are not able to do as well. The idea tends to be that if some people are good at maths they go in a class together and get to do more maths, faster, and others who are not as good do maths in a slower more careful way so they can understand it – or similarly with other subjects. This kind of streaming can be very damaging to some people’s self esteem, and even to those who excel it does not really help them with their life skills. They do not come out of school particularly better prepared for life or career, and I who am so against the current competitive system – how could I promote something like this?

But it is very different if Streaming is applied in another way. Instead of thinking about it as different abilities better or worse why don’t we put people of similar learning styles and personality types together. Someone who loves to talk and discuss can be in a group that learn together through discussion – the interesting ideas of mathematics can be explored, and they can in the process learn more about themselves in a deeper way as well as about mathematics. Similarly someone who loves a more rigorous learning style can be with a group of others who also enjoy this. Mathematics will be more rigorous – may be it will be applied a little bit more and become something closer to engineering, and those who like to learn like that will love it, and again learn things that can be very useful in their lives.

Of course what I am talking about is the different centrings, the 8 personality types that I find really important in all aspects of life. Each one centring in a different chakra, and each one finding their flow in a very different way of looking at the world. If we are surrounded by people similar to us we learn so much about ourselves and who we are – things that can never be taught directly, but are crucially important to a good life and career.

It seems quite simple to apply this idea to our education system. Do you think we can begin to do it?