Big classes curtail learning

Sasha Saias, Opinions Writing Editor

A large sophomore chemistry class. Students may not be heard or get as much individual attention in larger classes.
A large sophomore chemistry class. Students may not be heard or get as much individual attention in larger classes.

Learning is hard. In fact, it is often the hardest aspect of life, whether it is learning to read, ride a bike, or cope with a difficult situation. As a child matures, this fact becomes increasingly evident, and by the time one reaches high school, learning becomes a driving force in one’s life. In order to successfully undertake such a crucial task, a student needs help.

Being in a class that contains 30 students, although manageable, can impede on a student’s ability to learn. Junior Sabine Sussman has noticed such a problem in her own classes.

“I see kids who struggle with learning and need more one-on-one time with the teacher,” Sussman said. “In a big classroom you feel intimidated to do that, and you feel that you aren’t getting the help that you need.”

I myself have felt that struggle, especially in science classes. Ever since 7th grade I have often sat bewildered at my desk, wondering how the other students understood the writing on the board.

The difference is, in middle school, I rose my hand relentlessly to ask for explanations. When I arrived in high school, I was instantly overwhelmed by the sheer number of students. I no longer wanted to raise my hand. It didn’t seem fair to halt 30 students for the benefit of just one.

“The classes coming into the high school are getting bigger and bigger in grade size,” Sussman said, “so I think there is going to be an influx in students in a classroom.”

However, there is debate as to whether class sizes are really growing. Both Assistant Headmaster Hal Mason and Dean of Students Scott Butchart believe that although grade sizes are growing, class sizes are not.

According to guidance counselor Eric Schiff however, class sizes did grow. Although not dramatically, the change has been enough to generate the tightest schedule seen in a decade.

“In theory, there is the potential that a new student could be shut out of a course that is required to graduate,” Schiff said.

The common thread is that regardless of individual class sizes, the overall student body is growing. According to Mason, the current class of 2016 is a great deal smaller than the class that will replace it. The grade sizes are getting so large that the Brookline district is considering building a new high school.

“We had 80 more kids join this year than graduated last year,” Mason said. “We hired more teachers. The building will definitely not hold it so that is going to be a problem.”

My brother will bc part of the high school class of 2020, and I worry that he will not receive the same benefits that those before him have been granted. Learning, for him, is an uphill battle with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), and he needs all the help he can get. I hope that the increase in grade sizes will not, as Mason and Butchart said, affect his own individual class size. He, and every student, deserves to feel comfortable in a classroom, to be able to have his questions heard, and to feel as though the teacher is there to help him.

Sasha Saias can be contacted at [email protected]