Re: Classes too big, or too unruly? (Chilliwack Progress, Sept. 19) In response to Ted Grigoleit’s letter about unruly classes, comparing the behaviour of students in BC’s underfunded special education classes to a specially prepped communist Chinese class on display for western visitors or to a university lecture hall full of highly motivated, paying mature students is one of the worst cases of “apples to oranges” ever written.
To begin with, students in university have already mastered proper behaviour and listening skills. Not to mention that they are paying top dollar to be in that class and most don’t want to waste their tuition money. Plus, the lecture-hall scenario is becoming less of a reality, and where this still exists, the students also attend much smaller tutorial sessions to discuss and apply the information from the lecture. As well, those students have gone through the hormonal changes that middle and high school students are still contending with which have a huge impact on their behaviour. And of course, your example of a BC class full of poorly disciplined students is that of a special needs class, filled with students with unique mental and behavioural challenges. This is the exact type of class that the BC teachers were on strike for, trying get the government to adequately fund so your example would no longer occur.
Second of all, communist societies like China require ‘discipline’ from their citizens in order to maintain dictator-like control of its populace. If that is what British Columbians truly valued, parents would insist on it more in their homes and teach their children to respect/fear their teachers. That way children could become drones able to regurgitate state-mandated ‘facts’ to perpetuate the communist ideals, prepared to enter the work force as skilled laborers (much like Christy Clark would like – see “BC ed plan”). You can bet the Chinese hand selected and prepped the class that the Western visitors observed as an example of the discipline valued by that society. Were the visitors allowed to see how the students with special needs do their learning?
Finally, concluding from these misaligned comparisons that we must put all our students in front of a computer all day long and just let them learn at their own pace is illogical. The type of students who can’t sit still in a regular classroom most certainly couldn’t sit all day in front of a computer to learn. Just because many of them could play computer games all day doesn’t mean they have the self-discipline necessary to undertake all the course work needed to meet the stipulated learning outcomes day-in and day-out. And, our current Liberal government doesn’t fund the education system properly now. How can they be counted on to provide each student with the expensive technology required for them to do this on-line learning? True education is a highly social and cooperative operation, requiring teachers to establish learning atmospheres where each student can have meaningful experiences and profound learning opportunities. Rows of ‘disciplined’, passive listeners, whether in a communist-like setting, a university lecture hall or classes of students strapped in front of a computer does not achieve this. The logical conclusion on how to improve classrooms for these students is to properly fund the current system so students have the support they require.