By Analyn May
As the school year draws to a close, I find myself once again reflecting on the state of the school system. Those of you who have been reading my articles since the beginning will know that the very first article I ever wrote was on a similar topic, and that as both a student and the daughter of a teacher, I feel rather strongly about some of the current educational policies. But there’s one policy that I think, if implemented, would immediately eliminate 90 percent of all existing problems with the system. And it’s not a foreign concept, either. It’s simply this:
Smaller. Class. Sizes.
You know I feel strongly about a subject when I break the rules of grammar to make my point. Currently, the legal “limit” of students per class is based on district averages, meaning some schools may have much higher class sizes than others. To make matters worse, sometimes the limits placed aren’t even enforced, negating the whole purpose of having a limit in the first place. Due to “budget restrictions” (which, in my opinion, are the result of a mis-prioritized budget), most schools cram far more students into a class than the legal cap allows, instead of hiring one or two more teachers and simply letting many other classes enjoy a population below the limit.
Some of you may be wondering why smaller class sizes are such a big deal, particularly if you never had to deal with a 30-something-student class as a kid. There are practically countless benefits, but I’ll list a few. First, teachers are actually humans (unbelievable, right?) and therefore have limited reserves of both time and energy. Simple division means that the more students in the class, the less time and energy they have to spend on each one. Second, kids who are shy or have anxiety are overwhelmed by a large group of peers and will shut down into “quiet mode” if they have a question, instead of asking the teacher for help (and thus stealing time away from the other students). Third, not only do teachers have less time to bond with their students, but students have less time to bond with each other, which makes it difficult in certain situations such as group projects. This may also lead to students forming exclusive “cliques” within the class, due to the psychological need to belong to a “pack.” This in turn leads to a higher chance of outcasts than in a class which is small enough to be a functional “pack” on its own.
I’ve just listed three reasons why smaller class sizes would be beneficial to students and teachers alike, but it isn’t difficult to figure out others. The only thing that’s difficult for me to figure out is why on earth this wouldn’t already be common practice. Sadly, as I mentioned before, it probably all comes down to bottom line. But when the very point of school is to educate the next generation, is sacrificing the actual quality of the education students are receiving worth a couple dollars? I think not.
But as always, that’s just my POV. Until next time, this is Analyn May, signing off.