Effortless English Archives

Automatic English For The People

Thursday, October 06, 2005

The Magic of Small

by AJ

There's plenty of research to back it up. Its something we all know intuitively. Its something most teachers and most students want. And yet, no one acts on this knowledge.

What I'm referring to is small classes. (woops, should be "are small classes"... see, even native speaking English teachers make grammar mistakes)! There is one instant & super-simple way to improve education... at every level, in every country, and in every setting: get smaller. Will this guarantee remarkable excellence? No. Has it been shown to increase effectiveness, satisfaction, and quality with absolute consistency everytime its tried? Yes.

In education, small is indeed beautiful.

This really hit home to me this week, as I ploughed throw stacks of exam papers. How could I possibly know each of these students on a personal level-- their strengths, their goals and desires, their work, their challenges? Simply put, I can't. And I don't like that.

So when I set out designing my own Effortless English Online Club (ie. class).. I decided to keep it small. Very small.

I will start, next semester, with a maximum of 4 students. Those four will get my full attention. I will get to know them very very well, they will get to know me very well, and they will get to know each other very well.

Each of these four students will design, in consultation with me, their own learning plan. No one-size-fits-all. No rules. No exams.

They will work together on projects. They will come together for book & film discussions. They will write and comment on each other's writing. They will share contacts, ideas, resources, friends, tutors, mentors.

I don't want to create a "class". Im aiming to create an English-learning tribe.

In the future, Id like to go farther with this. Id like to dress these tribes (or clubs or classes) with a "Tong aesthetic" (to use Hakim Bey's words);... tiny "secret societies" dedicated not only to learning English; but also to collaboration, mutual promotion, subversion of the traditional education system, and whatever other projects the members choose to undertake.