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Sensible Education Reform: Bigger Classes

by Paul Revere (Principles: -) - 2 year ago

Using the same budget, how can we reform the education system?

Kids who get personalized attention, who feel that someone really cares about them, who learn in a comfortable environment,  and who are learning in a style that suits them do much better and like school a lot more.  Think about how much better our students would do if they learned in groups of 6.

Now stop dreaming, we’ve got budget considerations! If we put kids in a class with 20 other students, most of them will still be ok.  Kids with support at home, who are generally smart, well adjusted, and able to sit for long periods of time will do fine in a class of 20 where they have opportunities for group work, for competition, and for independent work…However, they will also do fine in a class of 25 or even 30.  The kids that won’t live up to their potential in a group of 30, either because they are academically gifted, or they have learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder, or all of the above, won’t live up to their potential even in a group of 20. 

I propose a plan which increases class size but gives teachers a certain number of small group instruction hours a week.  The teachers can use these hours to work with children in groups up to 6.  This is the new system in Israel, and I think it is pretty effective.  This year I had 3 small group hours which I used to work with a few dyslexic students in English, some native English speakers who were on a higher level than the rest of the class, and a group of kids who were having social trouble, and we wanted them to work on a project together. 

In a class of 20, the weaker students and the more advanced students sit lost or bored most of the time, whereas in the 30 person class, they are pulled out once a week and get full attention for that hour and assignments that are geared to their level that they can do independently for the rest of the week.  The students with social issues who sit disinterested most of the week also now have an outlet for personalized attention where they can work cooperatively on something that interests them.

I strongly believe that school success depends on meeting students’ individualized needs.  The question then becomes, how do we pay for it.  I suggested making class size bigger. Is there an alternative? Is it already being done?  Is it feasible? Are there other ways to give kids personalized attention within the budget? Are the candidates talking about this? Let me know what you think.

Comments and Responses (3)

General Comments
By  Facebook Commenter - 2 year ago
Well, I know where to begin on some things such as attaching the dollar to the child so they decide what schools and teachers to have would help weed out the bad teachers. Get rid of teachers unions, in fact get rid of all unions, and have a computer system with robots take their place to make sure all of us grown ups are doing what what we should be doing, but that is a whole another subject. Books and teachers should never be more liberal or conservative. I am really tired of the marxism indoctrination that is happening, it is unhealthy because it is brainwashing and stops openness to different ways of thinking
Discussion Leader's Response : This comment is interesting but not directly relevant. (It might be a good topic for a new discussion)
Discussion Leader's Explanation : In my experience, teachers at the k-12 level try to expose their students to politics without taking a side, perhaps at the university level it is different. You also stated that one solution is letting students and their parents decide what school to go to. I think choice in schools is important, in fact it has shown success in areas in NY where students can capply to a variety of public schools in their area, each with a different focus. However, you will still get a variety of students in each class, and small group instruction is still important whether the students are in a school by choice or by default.
Reasoning used for ARGUMENTS presented
By  David Teitelbaum - 2 year ago
I see the value of your trade-off. The individual attention that students can get is very valuable (in the hands of a good teacher.) However, what will the students be doing the rest of the time? While some student may be equally bored in a 20 person classroom as they are in a 30 person classroom, the bigger class still means that they are called on less and it is even less likely that the lesson plan can be geared toward their level. Is the one hour a week of individual attention worth the 29 other hours that will now be even less interesting and relevant than they were before?
Discussion Leader's Response : This comment is relevant to the discussion. (Commenter's rating is increased.)
Discussion Leader's Explanation : In the small group, the teacher will give the students assignments that they can work on independently the rest of the week. Then, in the regular class when the teacher gives time for the students to work independently or in groups on different assignments, the kids that received the small group instruction also have something to work on that is on their level. During this time, the teacher can fairly quickly help the students from the pull out group, since he knows where they are in the material, and then turn his attention to the rest of the class. Even in a group of 20 kids, there are many kids who never get any attention, because if the teacher has never worked with them in a small group, he can't start while he's managing the rest of the class. If it's done right, the teacher can meet all of his students in small groups at some point in the week.
By  Facebook Commenter - 2 year ago
Smaller classroom sizes produce better one on one results!
Discussion Leader's Response : This comment is relevant to the discussion. (Commenter's rating is increased.)
Discussion Leader's Explanation : Intuitively what you said makes sense. However, the ability to meet kids in the personalized setting of a small group is more valuable. An houp a week of small group instruction allows the children to form a more personal relationship with their teacher, allows the teacher to better understand the students' academic and social needs, allows for new partnerships between students, and ultimately will turn the classroom into a more meaningful and productive learning experience.