Age diversity as an educational model
Most of us are used to classrooms full of pupils at the same age, assuming that peers have approximately the same stage of development. In Switzerland, as well as some other western countries, the educational model of multi-age classes is now adopted in some primary schools. Not as a matter of necessity, for example because of small communities, but because of the belief that age-diversity in the classroom is tied to advantages for the pupils. Let’s have a look at some of these possible advantages of multi-age classrooms: Younger pupils do not only see the teacher as a role model but they try to copy the older ones and this emulation can create a higher motivation. The children are more self-sufficient, helping each other out e.g. by explaining certain learning content when the teacher is busy. The older ones have a better understanding of what they have already learned, where their strengths lie and how to convey subject matters to other people. Overall the approach seems to be more child-oriented, there is less comparison between the pupils and creative thinking is encouraged. Anyway, a multi-age class places high demands on the teacher, as he or she has to follow the individual pace of every child. Still – especially in times of information technologies and collaboration – the idea to break up with the traditional educational systems is something worth thinking about, isn’t it?
The model of multi-age classes has its parallels to age diversity in business. Also teams can benefit from a wide age range: older employees have lots of experiences and are versed in doing their tasks whereas younger ones may come up with new ideas as well as knowledge of new technologies. If the differences are accepted and valued age diverse team compositions can lead to synergies and a more effective team performance.
What are your experiences with age diversity – in the classroom or in the business?