Education

Several factors more important than class size

A child who is self-motivated and taught to be independent from a young age tends to perform better than others, the writer says. PHOTO: REUTERS
A child who is self-motivated and taught to be independent from a young age tends to perform better than others, the writer says. PHOTO: REUTERS

Ms Dadina Wong Mee Ching appeals for smaller class sizes in our schools to improve learning ability and reduce dependence on private tuition (Yes, invest more money to reduce class sizes in schools, March 4). I beg to differ.

I taught for 36 years in neighbourhood schools, where a class size usually exceeded 40 students.

The schools I taught at produced one of Singapore's presidents as well as a former MP.

They are not the only ones who overcame the big class size to excel in life.

There are several factors which are more important than class size.

First, a child who is self-motivated and taught to be independent from a young age tends to perform better than others.

In 1965, I was posted to what was then called Naval Base School in Chong Pang Village. My Primary 5 pupils would travel all the way to the National Library in Stamford Road, as they were determined to improve themselves despite the disadvantages of being in a small village school with large class sizes.

A student who lived in Queenstown and carpooled with me was the nation's top O-level performer in 1966, and later became an MP.

Second, supportive and cooperative parents contribute greatly to a student's performance. Parents who show respect and give the teachers space to do their work, instead of making unnecessary demands, will help to lessen pressure and allow educators to do their work well.

These days, I hear from friends that teachers must update parents about their children's homework or co-curricular activities in WhatsApp chat groups.

What happened to the good old practice of a student writing down the homework for the day in a small notebook and being responsible for completing it?

Julia Sng-Thng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 09, 2021, with the headline 'Several factors more important than class size'. Subscribe