The most prominent hue and cry in parents-teacher association conferences across the world is efficient classroom management through individual attention. Most don’t realise that the two aspects are independent of each other.
Sure, one affects the other but not so much as people believe. For example, having ten kids in the classroom doesn’t necessarily mean the room is managed effectively. Sooner or later, the class will give rise to a couple of students who will dominate lectures, debates, discussions, making it utterly difficult for the remaining students to learn.
In theory, however, since it’s just ten students, everyone’s happy before they know about the two bullies in the class that are constantly interrupting. And soon enough, parents will complain, intervene, or worse, encourage their kids to be just as competitive fierce and take the path of yet another classroom rogue. They couldn’t care less about teachers or the whole banter around classroom management.
The above scenario is quite familiar with classes with over 30 students. The students compete for attention, the teachers struggle to keep the class focused, and the parents complain about the lack of individual attention. Why? Because it’s the teacher’s fault. It always is. At least that’s the narrative the PTA and school administration will have you believe.
But that’s neither here nor there.
My point of contention is that individual attention is only possible when a kid’s been tutored by a specialist or perhaps, one of (or in some cases, both) the parents. Expecting the same is stupid. It’s impossible to get individual attention even in a class of 5, let alone 10, 20, 30, or 65. If you disagree, let me ask you how you manage to give individual attention to both of your kids when they’re seeking your attention. If one of them is almost always dissatisfied, well, who do you have to complain to?
I like the idea of a classroom with 25-30 kids, provided they are taught how to learn, collaborate, disagree, and even debate with each other. Unfortunately, nobody’s ever developed a course on TeamWork 101 that runs from kindergarten through grade 12, nor do the parents care enough to share or encourage their kids to practice this concept in their classroom. It’s the school’s responsibility, after all.
Having a sizable audience (25-30) in the class sets up a great environment to learn from each other because that’s the kind of learning that will significantly impact the kid’s future. Of course, there will be dominant personalities, but they will be shut down before having a chance. That’s not possible in smaller classes (12 or less), which dramatically reduces learning effectiveness for the other kids.
I think you know where I’m going with this — individual attention is a misnomer; we need to align our expectations with the learning outcomes. Our kids will learn the best from their peers and teachers, than just the latter.