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“The practice of ‘streaming’ or ‘tracking’ involves separating students into classes depending on their diagnosed levels of attainment. At a macro level, it requires the establishment of academically selective schools for the brightest students, and comprehensive schools for the rest. Within schools, it means selecting students into a ‘stream’ of general ability, or ‘sets’ of subject-specific ability. The practice is intuitively appealing to almost every stakeholder.”
. . .
“The current pedagogical paradigm is arguably that of constructivism, which emerged out of the work of the Soviet psychologist Lev Vygotsky. In the 1930s, Vygotsky emphasised the importance of targeting a student’s specific ‘zone of proximal development’ (ZPD). A student’s ZPD is the gap between what they can achieve only with support (teachers, textbooks, worked examples, parents, etc) and what they can achieve independently. The purpose of teaching is to target this gap, to provide and then gradually remove the ‘scaffolding’ of supports until they are autonomous. If we accept this model of developmental learning, it follows that streaming students with similar ZPDs would be an efficient and effective solution. And that forcing everyone on the same hike – regardless of aptitude – would be madness.”
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“While streaming might seem to help teachers to effectively target a student’s ZPD, it can underestimate the importance of peer-to-peer learning. A crucial aspect of constructivist theory is the role of the MKO – ‘more-knowledgeable other’ – in knowledge construction. While teachers are traditionally the MKOs in classrooms, the value of knowledgeable student peers must not go unrecognised either.”