A lot of students gain a tremendous amount of their learning from the other students in the class. Variability is the is the way you get more of that kind of learning from other students.
As you’re learning something and you’re starting to get a grasp of something, when a fellow peer says it correctly you’re more likely to learn it than when a teacher says it or your read it again. Unfortunately, in a lot of our class rooms by age 8 if you child hasn't learned what to be passive and listen, they get in trouble. We actually want the opposite: we want them to be active and knowing what to do when they don’t know what to do. That’s what great teaching can do.
John Hattie, whose work on improving education I discussed yesterday, appeared recently on BBC Radio 4's The Educators.
It's worth a listen. I was surprised by the things that don't actually make a difference: class size, homework, uniforms and "streaming" (which I'd never heard of before).
What struck me, though, was his recommendation that kids learn better when they can learn from each other. This isn't surprising given my interest in collaboration
I also have a very active son, who definitely learns well through active exploration, but not so well through listening to boring old me (though I often find he listens better than I give him credit for). What I fear most is that school is going to extinguish that curiosity (and rebelliousness). What I most hope for are brilliant teachers who will encourage his active curiosity, rather than sit him down and prepare him for a test.
This also seems to align with what I've been reading and listening to from various educators who try to encourage collaborative learning.