Monday, August 29, 2011

What is the ideal class size

In running my art class for home educated children I had many lessons for myself. One of them was class size. The other was it really didn't matter what age the people were in my class they all could do it.
But class size has become something of an interest to me.
I have read "Unschooling Rules" and this page on class size....

The ideal class size isn't thirty or even fifteen, but more like five.

What is the ideal class size? When listening to popular rhetoric we are told that twenty-five to thirty-five is really really bad, and fifteen is really, really good.

While fifteen is better, that's kind of like saying driving 95 mph is better than 125. Anyone who has tried to interact with fifteen children knows the activity is still that of shepherding, and projecting content.

Now ask yourself, if you weren't constrained by budget or logistics or even common sense, what would the ideal class size be?

Really, class size should be about five. This allows common presentations peer-to-peer conversations, and one-on-one coach-to-student interactions.

Note, incidentally, that with this ideal class size comes a redefinition of class, from "entire community all day" to "time of focused learning."

From the point of view of the education industry, fifteen is a calculated target-a stretch goal for more funding without actually meeting the needs of the students. Once you get past their framing, the ideal number is much different.

From my own observations of my own child I can see many things.

While at Ballet today the class size has grown and my daughter is no longer focused on what the teacher is saying because the teacher is trying to focus on so many children. My daughter is drifting away.

My own experience in my art class anything over about 8 it became a little bit too stressful trying to give each child what they needed...listening to them, talking to them and giving them quality answers. My own daughter also found this really hard, and again started to drift away with too many people talking and so many people to take in. Yes you can get used to it you can numb yourself to numbers and even hide in the numbers.

I also remember my daughters first school visit. To start all was well. The class was small and quiet and we occupied ourselves doing a puzzle on the floor just the three of us (her brother came too). But once the class grew as children started to arrive the teacher started to pull the class in more, needing people to stop doing so many different things and try to all do the same things. My daughter pulled back and took off to the corner and wanted to keep on doing her own thing. Yes I tried to pull her along with the other children and tell her to sit on the mat...but she was not all that keen and asked to leave. I took her to the next class (there are three new entrance classes this year). We walked across the field to the next class, my children enjoying the hop-scotch on the way. I could hear the children in the class as we got nearer and to me it just sounded normal. I was not really focused on my daughter reaction until we really got to the was loud and very full...and my daughter opened the door and then shut the door and took off running back across the field to the first class. Then asked to go home without even opening the door.

Yes you can numb yourself and yes you grow used to the noise and the size its just a part of life...right?

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