Currently, for the most part, kids in Elementary School constantly are resorted, regrouped on basis of performance through grades of Elementary School. I understand basis for the resorting and regrouping, which is, opportunity for kids growing at similar pace to continue growing at same pace, with outcome some kids are much further ahead at preparation for Middle School or High School than others.
As an educator myself, it always is exciting to teach a class filled with kids who for various reasons are motivated to perform well in school. These kids ask questions, are willing to proffer answers to questions, make a lecturer’s life much easier, hence rationale for awarding of ‘participation’ grades to students in College.
While resorting and regrouping of students in Elementary School has upside of maximization of their intelligence potential, in light of ages of the kids in question, there exists a significant, yet unemphasized drawback or downside. I illustrate with a practice that used to be common in many Commonwealth Countries (countries previously colonized by Great Britain).
A long time ago, brilliant kids in Elementary Schools of Commonwealth Countries could skip a grade, challenge material taught two grades higher. These students rarely ever failed at maintaining their performance. Regardless of maintenance of performance, however, it was discovered that by timing of entrance to College, such kids typically were emotionally underdeveloped, not well prepared for life. In light of the identified drawback, the practice was discontinued.
Whenever kids are resorted and regrouped in context of Elementary School, brilliant or intelligent kids never learn how to be patient with those who are less intelligent, relatively less intelligent kids never have opportunity for having their intellect challenged or stimulated by much more intelligent kids. Intelligent kids do not become as emotionally mature as possibly could be, less intelligent kids never experience beauty of having what sounds like Greek from the teacher be explained much more simply by a classmate.
By the way, it is important to distinguish between intelligence or brilliance, and understanding required for living of life, understanding I will refer to as ‘smartness’.
Intelligence belies capacity for learning new things, and capacity for transcending of what is learnt for arrival at designation as a thought leader in same field. Albert Einstein learned Physics from others, became a thought leader in same discipline. Marie Curie learnt Physics and Chemistry from others, became a thought leader in both disciplines. Isaac Newton learnt Physics, produced new ideas that regardless of advances have stood the test of time. Robert Boyle initially learnt Chemistry from others, became himself ‘Father of Chemistry’.
Smartness refers to understanding of how life functions. A smart kid may understand the imperfections, vagrancies, frictions of life better than an intelligent kid. A smart kid may be able to tell when the teacher feels an intelligent kid is showing off. A smart kid likely does better at reading emotions than an intelligent kid.
The fallout of difference between intelligence and smartness?
An intelligent kid may not be quite so smart. A smart kid may not be quite so intelligent. Resorting and regrouping of kids in Elementary School mostly is on basis of intelligence.
While every kid in Elementary School represents some combination of intelligence and smartness, let us for the moment assume dichotomy of smartness and intelligence.
In presence of dichotomy of smartness from intelligence, if an intelligent kid learns to respect a smart kid, and a smart kid learns to respect an intelligent kid, a partnership is formed that enables both together achieve more than they ever could individually. This perhaps is the reason scientific studies continue to find work spaces that are more diverse thrive better than work spaces that exhibit less of diversity.
Over time, resorting and regrouping of kids in Elementary School on basis of demonstrated intelligence implies less of interaction between intelligent kids and smart kids. Less of opportunity for rubbing off of individuality of smart kids and intelligent kids.
But if intelligent kids never share the same classroom with smart kids, and smart kids never share the same classroom with intelligent kids, how exactly ever will they learn to respect one another, understand each other’s strengths, learn to work together effectively and efficiently?
Now consider that demands of Middle School and High School imply increasingly greater share of individual work, as opposed to team work. We have then that it is much more difficult to produce contexts amenable to working together of intelligent kids and smart kids in Middle School or High School. In presence of highlighted constraint, if ever intelligent kids are to learn to work with smart kids, and vice versa, the best setting for encouragement of such attitudes likely is Elementary School.
If we are to get intelligent kids and smart kids working together, learning together, they must operate in context of what we refer to in Financial Economics as Cooperative Games. In context of Cooperative Games, everyone chooses a strategy that gives each and every person a payoff with which they are comfortable. Typically, no one gets the highest possible individual payoff. Everyone gets enough, however, to be reasonably satisfied.
Cooperative Games exist in real life, in business.
Issues of shares on stock exchanges occur in context of Cooperative Games. There is an underwriter who assures the public that shares being sold are worth whatever investors are paying. There is a company issuing shares whose reputation cannot be dissociated from capacity for maintenance of the value of it’s shares. There are investors who seek to profit from buying said shares, as such are interested in increase to dollar value of their shares over time.
In order for all three groups of people to be reasonably satisfied, all three parties must interact in context of a Cooperative Game. The objective of the Cooperative Game? Arrival at a share price that represents a premium (a profit or positive return) for the company issuing shares; a share price at which the underwriter can sell as much as the company desires to raise from investors; and a share price that incorporates potential for a decent increase in share price in future, an attractive feature for investors.
If one of the most important features of modern society, the stock market, generates new listings in context of Cooperative Games, can we ever belittle importance of Cooperative Games for well functioning of society?
Is it too much to ask for kids to interact in Elementary School in context of Cooperative Games? After all, they all are learning exact same subjects. Can we not leave off the individualistic competition until Middle School or High School? If kids never learn to respect one another’s differences, never really learn to work in teams because they want to be sorted into the highest performing groups, if they never learn to work together in context of Cooperative Games, whenever exactly will they learn this normatively valuable life skill?
Given entrance to each of Middle School or High School is based on residential zoning, as opposed to some merit factor, incorporation of less of Non-cooperative competition into Elementary School curriculums is feasible.
Because school systems focus on competition, competition, as opposed to partnering of strengths has, and is becoming societal norm? But this ought not to be so; absent recognition and partnering of strengths, society becomes exactly what American society has become, is becoming, which is fractured, segmented, factionalized, with outcome mindfulness deteriorates, becomes outsourced to all sorts of gurus.
A Non-cooperative ‘winner takes all’ mentality is fracturing American society. A ‘recognition and partnering of strengths’ philosophy, a philosophy rooted in celebration of diversity, creates balance in society, and per scientific studies, generates better performance within cross-sections of firms.
A society devoid of Non-cooperative Games, equivalently, Non-cooperative competition is nigh impossible.
But then again, a society devoid of understanding of contexts within which Cooperative Games are more appropriate than Non-cooperative Games eminently is dysfunctional.
Well functioning societies are characterized by appropriate balancing of Cooperative and Non-cooperative games. While within-firm competition is supposed for instance to function mostly in context of Cooperative Games, competition across firms obviously must function in context of Non-cooperative Games. Given kids are schooled right from the start in context of Non-cooperative Games, however, American society is filled with young people and adults who always have their competitive caps on, this more so in context of looking out for their careers within-firm, with outcome competition within firms likely has become more intense than competition between firms. After all, are competing firms not life vests for those who lose out in context of Non-cooperative within-firm competition.
It is time for Elementary Schools in America to function more in capacity of Cooperative Games, as opposed to Non-cooperative Games. It is time for Elementary Schools to leave most of the preparation for Non-cooperative Games for Middle School, and High School. In light of increase in specialization between Elementary School, Middle School, and High School, this is the only sequence that contributes towards reclaiming of the soul and mindfulness of the United States of America.