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Re: Small Schools -- Chimera or White Blindspot?



Victor and Doug,

What seems to happen - at least in my experience - is that adults in
whatever place they are, i.e., parents, teachers, community, tend to believe
that the education they had was great - large school, small school, large
school and small classes, one room schoolhouse (I went to a three room one
for 1-8) etc. etc and so that's why it sounds like qualitative research
because people use anecdotal evidence (their own usually) to prove a point.
I'm not sure what the point is here except that we all wear blinders to some
extent and we "see" what we want to see and if real research is done and it
proves our bias, we love it. If research is done and it says something
other than what we believe, we ignore it. Strange behavior, I think, for a
society that considers itself well-educated. Of course, the opposite
happens too - if our school experience (whatever that was) was negative,
then we want our kids as far away from that as possible because obviously it
will be wrong for them too.

karen

-----Original Message-----
From: Assessment Reform Network Mailing List
[mailto:ARN-L@LISTS.CUA.EDU]On Behalf Of Victor Steinbok
Sent: Friday, January 19, 2001 1:08 PM
To: ARN-L@LISTS.CUA.EDU
Subject: Re: Small Schools -- Chimera or White Blindspot?


There is a great difference between reducing the size of schools and
reducing class size. People arguing one usually assume that the other
does not matter. Class size has been subject to much research and
fabrications--most studies confirm that there is a maximum class size
that makes a difference (going from 24 to 18 in grade 2, for example, is
not much of an improvement), and that the greatest effect is in the
early grades (that's "effect" on students, but no one has done research
on the effect on teachers).

School size a subject of much speculation and the worst kind of
qualitative studies that I've ever seen (mostly done by people who
oppose qualitative research). Much effort is made to emphasize the
"ethos" of the school, which small-school advocates claim is better in
smaller schools. The argument often resembles patriotic calls to
duty--if the school is small, the students feel that the school is
theirs and the school needs them. whatever...

One part of the small school movement specifically has argued that we
should go back to one-room school houses (any takers on this list?).
According to them, if you have a small school (tiny, really) with the
promotion policy that is based entirely on learning rather than seat
time, the product is better. The details, of course, vary from advocate
to advocate, but the brand of people advocating this particular kind of
education should be familiar to every one here.

VS-)

Doug Selwyn wrote:
>
> George and list members,
>
> I'm sure I might be missing something. Why does a look at reducing the
> size of classes and schools contradict also looking at equalizing funding.
> Is the notion that small schools are the fix and nothing else needs to be
> done? that's certainly not what I'm suggesting. Simply having small
> schools in a society that is increasingly divided between the rich (who
> get richer) and the poor (who get more numerous and poorer)is not an
> "answer." but that doesn't mean that kids function better (as do
> teachers) in a setting in which people know each other and can make real
> connections with each other. Why are these movement seen as mutually
> exclusive?
>
> Doug Selwyn
> Seattle
>
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