Tracking in the Quadrivium

Let me get past the obvious quickly:  Classical Christian Education has a very poor record teaching the Quadrivium or mathematical arts.  We just do.  But we need to overcome that, and soon.  That all being confessed, let me get on to my current peeve.

Given: some students mature or intellectually develop at a differing pace from others.

Given: it is somewhat arbitrary that we have grouped students by age rather than by developmental pace in any subject including math.

If you give me those two ideas, then I have issues bringing these two givens to a practical place in a school.  Is tracking a good or bad or neutral practice in education?

I am not seeking to answer that question, but rather to post some corollaries:

  1. How many tracks (if tracking is good)?
  2. How much should be determined by individual students and how much by collected wisdom from past experience?  “Johnny can handle Algebra 1 in 7th grade, therefore more 7th graders probably can.”  Vs. “Most 7th graders cannot handle Algebra 1, therefore we should not push a fella like Johnny on into it.”  Vs. “It’s not whether Johnny can handle Alg 1 in 7th but what he will be able to do two or three years later that we should be thinking about.” All of these seem valid on their own but obviously can’t all become the operating praxis of a school program.



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