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EDUCATION: Class size is not the only issue

Letter by Colin Guthrie, Puyallup on Dec. 7, 2011 at 1:06 pm with 22 Comments »
December 7, 2011 1:06 pm

It is admirable that Stadium High School students are interested in their education, but they have a lot to learn when it comes to good financial sense and work ethic.

Students are interested in keeping class sizes low. However, low class sizes are not a dead giveaway to good education. A good education depends on the effectiveness of the teachers and the requirements they place upon students.

I also question the effectiveness of the school administration and why multiple administrators are needed when just one is required at each building.

In my mind, schools are not requiring students to work hard and focus on classwork. They are often out of class doing other tasks and are not required to perform at a minimum mastery standard.

I feel teachers should have the freedom to teach to the students’ learning styles so students can be successful.

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  1. Fibonacci says:

    Well Colin, I have to say. Small class size does not ensure good teaching and students learning, you are right. BUT, making classes too big very definetely has a negative effect on learning.

    In case you don’t realize it, students have free will. When you say “schoos are not requiring students to work hard” you fail to take this into account. A teacher can require what ever they want, but the student is free to do the work or not.

  2. cclngthr says:

    Fibonacci,
    When students do not do the required work, there are consequences for that, which the teacher should be able to dish out those consequences in a negative form, by failing that student.

    The teacher should be able to assist students who require/need that help, however when students make that active choice not to do the work, then there are consequences for such decision not to do the work.

  3. sandblower says:

    Colin, you have no idea about that which you write.
    Just one example: students do better the more adults they have in their educational environment.

  4. cclngthr says:

    sandblower,
    ALL students are required to master concepts taught regardless of parental involvement, teacher competency, student work ethic, etc. There is no leeway in that. If they don’t, the rate of laziness and inability (failure) is much higher than when students buckle down and do the work.

    We cannot dictate who becomes a parent, or what that parent is supposed to do, but we can set a standard of competency of students, and require students themselves to complete the required classwork and show competency on tests.

    What you want is teachers to dictate what parents are supposed to be doing by using a lifestyle you believe is superior to all other lifestyles.

  5. Fibonacci says:

    ccingthr
    Yes, in a perfect world, there are consequences. I am not talking about students who do nothing, yes, they fail. You talk about schools like they are some sort of Nazi indroctrination camp, where the guards
    (teachers) just have to “be tough”. Students need to “meet those standards”. What a narrow education you are projecting on students. Take those standardized tests, teach to the test. The most highly educated nation on earth is Iceland (or was it Finland?) and they have almost no standarized tests. Get out of that cookie cutter method yo advocate. Maybe we should bring back the paddle if they don’t meet those standards.

  6. cclngthr says:

    Fibonacci,
    There always will be standardized testing, wherever and what country it is. Even in Finnish schools, students are regularly tested with standardized tests. What works in Finnish schools is there are no political prescriptions where certian things are taught a specific way. Finnish teachers have complete freedom to teach anyway they like as long as students are actively learning. They also stay at the same school, with the same teachers for most of their educational career. Rather than changing teachers every year, the Finnish students remain with the same set of teachers for more than 5 years. With learning disabled students, more support is given to these students so they can succeed. SPED teachers work alongside general education teachers there, where we separate the 2 groups as far as possible.

  7. alindasue says:

    cclngthr said, “The teacher should be able to assist students who require/need that help…”

    That’s easier to do when that teacher doesn’t have quite so many students to assist.

    In another thread, you mentioned the size of classes those students would face in college. When I was in college, we did have 60+ people in some of the lecture classes. However, most of those lecture classes had an accompanying lab that we had to take. The labs rarely had more than 20 people. The reason for that is because the smaller groups allowed for more professor/student interaction and allowed each student better access to the lab equipment.

    There is a correlation between class size and how well a student – especially a struggling student – is able to learn. I see it. Others have seen it. The students see it as well and are, understandably, concerned about the negative effects the budget cuts are having on class size.

  8. cclngthr says:

    Here in the US, disabled students are not always given opportunities to learn because of assumptions about how they learn. Many teachers don’t want them in the classroom. In Finland, disabled students are given more support so they can succeed.

    Here in the US, those students with little support from parents are assumed to be dumb because teachers want students to learn in a specific way. Teachers assume parents should act in a superior lifestyle they believe is “right.”

  9. sandblower says:

    ccingthr, just for once try to imagine an education system that works for students whose parents are not up to the task. Or would you rather take the easy way out for yourself and ignore those students?
    You do have something still to learn I am afraid—-after reading your comments for a while.

  10. cclngthr says:

    alindasue,
    With many lecture classes, such as History, or similar course, there is no “lab” to draw back on because labs generally are in sciences and math courses. A health course may not “have” a lab.

    Colleges have tutoring centers which they have access to when they are struggling. However college courses require students to be responsible for their education, rather than making the teacher responsible as with the K12 system.

    In a high school setting, I feel students should be mostly responsible for their education and take that responsibility seriously. I also believe, particularly with the K12 system, more support can be made to those struggling students via in school tutoring centers where students have access to. That tutoring center has staff available to assist the student in contacting tutors, which can be fellow students who have taken the same class and volunteer their services to the school. Tutoring staff also contact the teacher and assist in meeting the goals of the student and teacher. They can suggest different ways the student can do the work, or have note-takers, etc.

  11. cclngthr says:

    sandblower,
    You still insist parents ABSOLUTELY, MUST be directly involved. What we have to do is involve the student in ways that engage them in the learning process without parental involvement. This can be done. It takes more from the school system, but it is possible to do that.

    It is easier when parents are involved, but not all parents can be.

    What we can do is be available for parents, and have different techniques to meet with parents; possibly home visits are needed.

  12. sandblower says:

    So cc, how exactly do you force parents to become involved? There is no way to get them all and I’m not sure there is a way to get even 25%. And how much are you going to spend on that effort before it would be better to spend it at the school?
    The difficulties you folks all seem to ignore in your utopia-like answers make me shake my head in disbelief at the levels of ignorance being exhibited.

  13. cclngthr says:

    sandblower,
    Part of that process is getting the kids interested in school and what they are doing in school. This may take a completely different approach to education, which will throw the traditional education model out the door. School does not always have to be in a classroom setting where kids are learning via conveyor belt form of education. That conveyor belt model likely turns these kids off to school. School does not always have to be in a traditional school setting at the hours we now have it. Evening school is an option as well as non-traditional settings.

    Once kids are interested in school functions, they will want to be at school during school events. They will get their parents to take them more when the schoold do that.

    I also think teachers have to be willing to work at hours and places for school at other locations. Although now this is prohibited (and some teachers prefer not to do it), I think schools have to be more available to parents rather than the standard 8 hour time period. Going to the home of the student may be necessary.

    Many parents who fall in the uninvolved category feel education is a waste of time, and feel their children should not go to school, or do school activities because the family environment does not think education is important. Many of these families are on state assistance, and integrating welfare programs to education also is needed. Requiring clients receiving government benefits to have their children achieve minimum passing grades as a condition of benefit receipt may be a way to require involvement in education. If the kid does not do well in school, that DSHS worker can financially dock the family of benefits.

  14. harleyrider1 says:

    How can you have a large enough group to leave school and march in favor of a teacher’s strike for higher salaries or last minute for “education”, if you cut the size down?

    Priorities. Let’s see… go outside and walk around the streets with grade-school signage or attend school per state law that taxpayers are paying for – and actually learn to be a productive citizen.

    Er – let’s go outside.

  15. Fibonacci says:

    CC
    You have some ideal (according to YOU) system of education that YOU think would solve the problems of the unmotivagted student with the noncaring parent. Unfortunately, those of us in the real world don’t all teach a vocational class and we can’t control how the schools work. I would put forth the idea that the vast majority of our students DO learn in our schools today. Yes, we have failures, but they have ALWAYS been there. How many sutudents used to quit school after the 8th grade? Our schools are NOT run by the “teachers union” and and our kids are NOT taught by uncaring teachers. I know YOU teach a voactional class but many/most high school classes are NOT vocational (read–readily applied to daily living), but teach HOW to think, not WHAT to think.

    You constantlhy spout how YOU think education should be and how teachers should teach. How about joining the rest of us in reality and actually trying to hlep kids succeed in the system they have, not the one YOU think they need.

  16. whitecap says:

    Dear Colin,
    I’ll be brief. Other than your last sentence, you do not know what you’re talking about.

  17. Copper2Steel says:

    Just my two cents: I think smaller class sizes are more important for younger children; they need a good educational foundation from which to build.

    As others mentioned, once a person is in college, there can be 100 or more students to one professor. But by that time, and even before (in high school), a student should have more responsiblity for his/her education and less need for one-on-one attention from a teacher.

  18. beerBoy says:

    My wife taught high school in Tumwater for a one year sabbatical replacement. The guy she replaced was known as the students’ friend and an easy A – the counselor placed underachievers in his class so they could raise their grade point. My wife came in and expected the students to learn and earn their grades.

    She was pressured by parents and by administrators to give A’s to students who she had been very generous to give C’s to. After the year was over the District offered to extend her emergency credential – she turned them down – one year was enough.

    Don’t blame the teachers without looking at the administrators and parents.

  19. beerBoy says:

    Appropriate class size is dependent upon a number of variables including the age/maturity of the students AND the subject being covered.

  20. beerBoy says:

    cc – some parents will never get involved. Taught kids who lived in the Projects in San Francisco and Oakland, parents in jail – or crackheads – or prostitutes. Home visits weren’t going to help even if they happened.

  21. itwasntmethistime says:

    I get to throw this out in almost every thread Colin (cc) is involved in: Exit LaLa Land, cc. There is nothing a school can provide a kid that can override a negative attitude in the home. If Mom or Dad (or both) are angry at “the man” their attitude permeates the kid’s brain and the best teachers/mentors can’t dislodge it. The kid has to want it, and if the parents are vehemently against authority as it is presented in the school setting, the kid will not want it.

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