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« Should I Homeschool My 16 Year Old? | Main | Tipping Sacred Cows »

November 27, 2008



Years ago, I was talking to a dad about his kids. He mentioned their ages and I guessed their grades -- he said that I must be a teacher. No -- its not too hard to figure out 5 to 6 = kindy, 6 to 7 = 1st, and on up, leaving a bit of leeway for those who start late, etc. I remembered that from being in school myself. You'd think that people who care so much would keep that in mind since people who don't care so much can.


People like to categorize other people. They can look and (usually) know the classification we seem to feel is most important--gender--and we can sort of guess the age, and, therefore, if we care, the grade. The answer to "what grade?" does not transmit information of any value. It seems, then, that the question is merely a "pleasantry," a way to make idle conversation when one does not know what else to say. How sad that our society has so segregated us by age that many adults do not know how to make real conversation with children.


I think a lot of times people really mean "how old are you?". And I am amazed at how ignorant people are that the whole "grade" thing is based on age rather than achievement. So people ask me how I test my daughter to work out if she can move up to the next grade not realizing that the vast majority of kids in school move up. Very very few are held back. And very very few are accelerated. All the way through.

In fact, I was talking to someone who works for the school board and she confirmed that in order to be held back you would have to do badly in English and Math (nothing else matters), be socially awkward or "behind", and small in stature. In other words, you would have to seem like you "fit" with the kids in the grade below and not stand out as someone who was held back.


Recently my ten year old daughter who has never been to school or been in any grade was signing up for a crotchet class at the library. The librarian asked if she was in 6th grade (the grade needed to participate). My daughter hesitated and then answered "Yes." (She quickly figured out in her mind that she needed to be that age in order to participate) As soon as she finished signing up, she ran over to me and said, "Mom, how old do you have to be to be in 6th grade?"

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