A Challenge to Class Size C.W.

Malcolm Gladwell had an interesting post that challenges the conventional wisdom that argues for smaller class sizes to improve student learning. Gladwell writes: "Time and time again studies fail to show any significant advantage to reducing the size of classes--except in the case of very poor children in the very earliest of grades."

I found this interesting and surprising, especially as someone who would prefer a smaller class. The prevailing wisdom within teaching circles is that smaller is better. Kids along the special needs continuum either receive small group instruction in the form of pull-out instruction or they are referred to smaller and smaller classes (interestingly enough deemed more "restrictive"). In the general ed environment, teachers are expected to incorporate small group instruction into literacy and math blocks. The benefits to this seem obvious enough.

And yet, in Gladwell's own words, the data "defies common sense." The question this begs is why? Gladwell hypothesizes that perhaps:
One answer might be that large classes are a disadvantage with advantages: that in coping with the difficulty of competing for teacher attention, kids learn something more important--namely self-reliance.

My class size isn't changing any time soon (at least not getting any smaller). Still interesting food for thought.


Hugh O'Donnell said…
Off topic, but congrats on reaching your funding goal for classroom books!

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