I hadn’t seen the report arguing in favour or larger classes before I read Geoff Maslen’s articulate repudiation of it in the AGE:
ONLY an academic, safe in his book-lined office on La Trobe University’s green campus, could argue that class sizes in schools should be enlarged almost 50 per cent and that teachers should confront 35 hormone-charged and often obstreperous teenagers for six or more hours every day.
You have to wonder whether Dr John Hirst (as reported in The Age, 23/4) has ever taught in a school or been in a classroom since he left one 50 or more years ago. To suggest that children’s education would be improved by cramming 35 big or even little children into a room, just to increase teachers’ salaries, ignores the effect this over-crowding has on teacher and taught.
I also liked this a lot:
But no adults, outside the military or prison, would tolerate being forced to squeeze behind a desk and told to be quiet and get on with their work for hour after hour each day. Only because children are not grown-ups and have no rights can society condone them being incarcerated in school for 40 weeks a year for 13 long years.
That more young Australians don’t rebel against the restrictions school places on them – the demand that they wear uniforms, to line up before going into class, to sit in not always quiet, ordered rows, to accept the knowledge meted out to them in steady doses by their teachers – is because they have been taught passivity. They have come to accept that being there is part of the business of stepping across childhood’s threshold, even if the relevance of school to their present needs or their future aspirations remains obscure.
Let’s hope that idea is back in the box for a while!