There has been a lot of talk lately regarding class size initiative in Alberta and other parts of the world. The comment that keeps coming up is that reduced class sizes have shown no significant on improving student learning, but changing teacher practices to be more effective has.
Thinking out loud, I really do not disagree with the above statement at all. If we stand and deliver from the front of the classroom, give multiple choice quizzes to assess learning, does it matter if we have 20 or 40 kids in the room? Yes there might be more marking of the same essay over and over, but really, that should be done after hours and does not matter in the learning space of the classroom.
What is the preferred vision though? Do we want more personalized learning for our students, where they have the chance to explore, be creative, and pursue their own learning? Do we want more opportunities for meaningful collaboration? This is where a classroom of 20 versus 40 really matters. I know personally that when I was in my first years of university and in lecture halls of 500 people, I often felt no need to be in the classroom. When I went into the college of Education, and I actually got to know the people that I learned with and was in classes of 30-40 people, learning was much more meaningful and personal for me. I also did much better.
It is not that I do not understand why many schools (and other industries) are suffering budget wise and have to make some tough choices. I get that. I do however believe that using statistics that support the traditional and old world model of education on one hand, but then asking for a revamping of education is misleading.
Let’s continue to look at systems and schools that have proven to be effective in moving our students forward, as opposed to simply just looking at our own reflection. It is also important that when we use data to move ahead, we look at how it supports schools of the future, not of the past.