Monday, December 5, 2011

Stick to the Teleprompter, Hizzoner

Nobody's perfect. A few months ago, I wrote a post about how happy I was that Mayor Michael Bloomberg was launching a Young Men's Initiative for New York City. Then, he went ahead and said this:

What irritated me most was not his comment about "firing half the teachers." It was what he said after that: "Double the class size with a better teacher is a good deal for the students."


No. It's not. Doesn't matter if you're fucking Jaime Escalante. Any teacher knows there is a direct relationship between the number of students in your class and how productive your class will be. Not to mention all students learn differently, and so if you increase the number of students, you lose the ability to work with all students one-on-one at some point in class.

This holds true for college and university as well. For my undergrad at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, I honestly learned very little material in my "lecture-style" classes. These classes were packed to the brim with 300-500 students in one giant lecture hall. The professor would stand at a podium in front and lecture for about fifty minutes straight. What if you don't get the material? He lectures on. What if you weren't listening? He lectures on. What if you were sleeping? He lectures on. What if you were wondering whether that attractive girl sitting two rows ahead of you would want to work as your partner? He lectures on.

The point is: colleges know large classes aren't great. That's why every lecture-style class had a discussion section, with a maximum of twenty students per class. This was where you could talk, discuss and absorb the material the professor presented with a teaching assistant.

So no, Hizzoner, it's not a good idea to increase class sizes. The only person who would benefit from such a move is you: you save money by hiring less teachers. Education is not meant to be roboticized, buddy. They already tried that with textbooks.


nh said...

Hmmm... Checking out the hot girl two rows ahead were you? Somebody gonna get a hurt real bad!

Yo Mista said...

I was kidding, my love. Just kidding...