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Should students be taught in mixed ability sets?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/4/2018 Category: Education
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Debating Period
Viewed: 444 times Debate No: 110169
Debate Rounds (3)
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Mixed sets are seemingly becoming more and more popular in the UK for education. This is where students of all abilities are put together and learn the same. This concept could easily work but the current education system doesn't allow it to because students do not choose how they learn.

My first point against mixed sets is that it makes no one happy. It's like if you and a friend ordered steak to share, you wanted it well done and they wanted it rare, so the chef made it medium, now no one is happy with the result because it was trying to please everyone. In this system of mixed sets, the higher level students are bored, because they are learning basics that they were taught years ago, and lower level students are confused because they do not understand what is being taught. The only students I can see benefiting from this is mid-level students, who shouldn't be prioritised over every other student anyway.

An argument against this is that the students help each other, however the student should not carry the stress of teaching a class because they got a higher level, that is the teachers job and a burden that should not be placed on the student unless necessary.

I have been affected by these mixed sets and I believe this instance proves my point enough.

My English language class contained 3 students whose first language, was not English. One of which, knew no English at all. How was I meant to help these students and how were they meant to help me? I have no problem with these students, but as someone who is trying to learn how to improve my writing, I don't benefit from learning how to spell words such as 'cat' or learning when to use the right their/there/they're. We should be separated so students are learning something new, instead of constantly recapping. Recap lessons can be useful, and should be used, however, when I am forced to learn where to put a speech mark, I start to lose interest in my lessons.


I think you are only looking at mixed sets from your point-of-view.

From what I know about mixed sets, the goal is to help the majority. Think about it this way:

If I suck at mathematics and I am placed in a class with other people who also suck at math, no one improves. We all don't care because we all know we are bad. The teacher can try and make learning fun but at the end of the day, we have no motivation or competition. And we all know that school is a competition. But now, if you place me in a class with Remposhie, who is good at maths, I have more incentive to do better. He/She always knows the right answer, always raises their hand, always gets good grades. When Remposhie is out celebrating his/her A on the test and I look at my D, I realize that I want to do better. I have more motivation and now I have competition too because I want to be better than Remposhie, or at least just as good. SO I study and get a B on the next test, no I didn't get an A, but WOW is that an improvement. And then I keep working for that A.

You talked about how higher level students are bored but the teacher should be teaching the entire class the same thing. She might break it up differently depending on the student but it should all be the same, right? If you already know everything in that class, why the heck are you in it? Ask your teacher how you can move up to the next class. If you can't, talk to your teacher about it. He/She can give you extra work that will stimulate you.

You are right that student should not be teaching the class but there is a difference between teaching and helping. if a teacher gives you a worksheet and you notice a student struggling, why wouldn't you help them out? Since you are so high level, you know what they don't know yet. Give them tips or show them the process. It doesn't mean you are the teacher now, it just means you're a nice person.

Regarding your English language class, why were you in an English language class if you already speak English? Could you just explain in the next round the type of things you learn in such a class? But anyway I think I get what you are saying. In a case like that, the range between students should not be that large. You want mixed abilities but you don't want someone who has never spoken English in a class with someone who just finished writing a synthesis essay on the morality of animal testing. That's an issue with the school and your teacher, not mixed ability sets.

Mary-Ann Collins, a Deputy Headteacher says this: "Mixed-ability groups mean no labels, no student feeling they cannot do it and no glass ceilings or self-fulfilling prophecies. It means teaching a class of students with a range of different skill-sets, some with good memories, some with great practical skills, some who work well in pairs and groups, and some who like a good discussion.

... It takes a bit more effort on the teacher"s part to provide a varied approach to learning, so that all students can access the concepts covered, but this makes the learning fun and dynamic, and everyone benefits from this."

She also says: "Mixed-ability teaching is supported by some of the most successful teaching programmes in the world. For example, The Shanghai maths method dismisses setting altogether, and all children are assumed to be capable of understanding maths. Teachers work and train hard to find the best ways to encourage understanding from every student, and provide stretch and challenge for all."

Just so you know, Shanghai produces some of the most mathematically gifted students in the world. In worldwide tests, they always get top marks. Mixed ability sets are a reason for this, because they treat everyone the same and don't humiliate people by putting them in "lower ability" sets. That sort of thing is very discouraging and is a lose-lose for everyone.

Mary-Ann continues:

"One of my Year 11 GCSE groups a few years back was trying to work out where the energy came from when we generated electricity. The "clever" students were applying all the equations they had memorised and weren"t getting anywhere fast. Then, out of the blue, one young man who was a self-confessed poor performer in physics had a light bulb moment " he had solved it!... It was a real turning point " nobody would have predicted that this student would be the first to get to this complex solution, and he went on to get a top grade later that year. I could write countless similar wonderful moments like this, and for me, this is a constant reminder of the dangers and damage caused by the label of "bottom set"."

See, it does help! When we group people based on what we think their ability is, we are doing more harm than good. Everyone is talented at different things. Someone who is bad a complex solutions might be amazing at graphs. If we put them in the "bottom set", what motivation do they have to learn "I'm already bad at math so what's the point?" They would say.
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Debate Round No. 3
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by Amphia 3 years ago
This would have been a good debate. Too bad you forfeited.
Posted by Amphia 3 years ago
I would debate but I only know a little bit about mixed sets. Though I have heard about a teacher who tested them out and found that overall grades in class were better because of it.
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