This link has been floating around the POT blog roll: Sir Ken Robinson's talk titled Changing Education Paradigms.
I've thought for a long time that education should not be based on age, but rather on ability and interest. When I was in school, I had to wait (impatiently) for the rest of the class to finish their math problems. But in the next hour, I was hopelessly scrambling to catch up in my speed reading class. What if I were allowed to work at my own pace?
Although it's good to have deadlines, the deadline should by no means be the most important part of education. Instead, a freer system that removes the boundaries of grade levels would open up so many more possibilities for students. Those that excel in a subject would be freer to explore it in more depth. Those that need more time would be able to take it without the humiliation of being "held back".
The question is, if we allow for a more open educational system, how do we deal with the mixture of ages working together? How do we reconcile emotional maturity level with academic ability and artistic talent?
(See more from Sir Robinson here.)