Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Dropping the ball

I went to playgroup with my young daughter. A little girl tried to grab a ball that she was playing with. She pushed the girl away who then complained that my daughter wouldn't share.

Two minutes later I was playing throw with my daughter. The other girl, with tears in her eyes, came and joined us. We threw the ball between us and eventually I left them playing together. It was the first time I saw my little one enjoying playing with another child.

Getting kids to play nice requires help. Expecting appropriate peer interaction to appear miraculously is not appropriate. All too often we put kids together without supports where they can interact appropriately. The older kids get, the longer it takes to overcome negative behaviours and peer stereotyping.

A perceived benefit of the heterogenous class and middle schooling is improved peer interaction. The problem is that all too often the skills required by students to benefit from interactions is not explicitly taught. My view is that the heterogenous class is the domain of the experienced teacher and beginning teachers should be sheltered from their demands, allowing them to develop content mastery and classroom management skills first, teaching strategies/pedagogy second.

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