Jun 15, 2012

ARTICLE: Class Size

Teachers Respond to Mitt Romney on Class Size

"In late May, Mitt Romney said fewer students aren't really the key, citing research that indicated some smaller classrooms performed worse."

The following are bits of the teachers' responses.

From Laura Sauer: (1) Smaller class size means more personalized instruction. (2) Smaller class size means faster, more detailed feedback. (3) Smaller class size means better teacher-parent communication.

From Jennifer Wolfe: In a typical 52-minute period, I take the first three and the last three minutes for business. That leaves 46 minutes. With 10 minutes of direct instruction, that leaves less than one minute per child to check for understanding, make connections, and assess their learning.

From Brad Boeker: I am not terribly interested in what the "research" says, simply because I have done my own research over 21 years of teaching. 

From Calvin Wolf: When you get more than 30 teens, it's considerably harder to teach and monitor the social scene at the same time. Each student is faced with more distractions, knows the teacher is also more distracted and busy, and therefore feels a greater urge to stop paying attention to the subject material and start paying attention to gossip and horseplay.

Listen, I wouldn't think twice about disputing these teachers. Their experiences are real. However, I would argue that we're not dealing with common sense--I believe it's a cultural issue. The classes in Japan and Korea, for instance, have larger classes and great success. We can speculate all day long about the reasons, but we don't know why. 

There's something about American kids, though, isn't there? Without a cultural revolution or a drastic increase in teacher prestige, we have to fight for small classes. Fight on!

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