I was just reading there chapter dealing with class sizes in Malcom Gladwell’s book David and Goliath.
A few years ago, we deliberate moved our children to a school with much smaller class sizes – 12-18 kid per class. In our province, there was a big debate going on about class sizes and a real worry that class sizes (for grades 4 and above) were getting to large. We bought into the logic that smaller class sizes would help our kids get them more individualized attention from teachers.
In Gladwell’s new book, he argues that the research is showing that small classes are not the panacea we thought. He claims that the research shows that really big classes don;t work for all of the reasons you can imagine — not enough individual attention, excessive acting out…. But, he says that really small classes don’t work either because (i) the class is too small to develop and energy and flow and (ii) individual kids do not have peers that are at their exact learning level, thereby making them feel isolated. Gladwelll claims that the ideal class size is somewhere in the 18-24 range.
I find this interesting to consider as his arguments (as Gladwell’s usually do) make sense when you think about them. That said, I find Gladwell often uses stories (rather than large amounts of evidence) to justify his theories. This anecdotal justification is pretty loose academically, so I don;t know what to think.