Question of the week: Do you support small-class teaching in Hong Kong?

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 06 March, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 06 March, 2008, 12:00am

Ophelia Chan, 17, St Clare's Girls' School

Small-class teaching cannot guarantee increased student achievements and less disciplinary problems. Students need effective teachers - simply reducing the class size won't have a great impact on children's development.

Nowadays, students - many of whom come from one-child families - are spoilt and lack social skills. With smaller classes, they may not have adequate interaction with their peers.

Limiting class sizes may also reduce the variety of students in a classroom. Dealing with their peers is a very important part of a student's life.

If a child does not interact with students from different backgrounds, he or she may have trouble integrating into society later in life.

Although students can receive more individual help with small-class teaching, they may rely too much on their teachers.

Learning is not just between a teacher and a student. Self-learning by observing others and trying to eliminate their own weaknesses is more important for students.

When there are more students in a class, they can share so many different ideas. This stimulates their minds and enlivens the lessons, where students can discuss and learn from each other. This will be useful especially during projects, when participants can learn to share their responsibilities.

Small-class teaching can impose a heavy financial burden on the government. Schools will have to hire more qualified teachers and this going to cost a lot of money.

To meet the rising costs, the authorities may have to increase school fees or reduce expenditure in other areas.

Also, schools will have to find more space for their smaller classes. But schools in Hong Kong are already overcrowded, so how can they have more classrooms? The only solution is to build new ones and that means more money will be needed. Introducing small-class teaching is easier said than done. I do not support this concept.

Germaine Sng Qi Min, 15, South Island School

With the advent of globalisation and a knowledge-based economy, we need a better education system.

Small-class teaching has many advantages and can play an important role in achieving that goal.

It encourages improved communication between teachers and students, and enables the teacher to better identify each individual's strengths and weaknesses. This will benefit students, because teachers will be able to adopt a more innovative teaching style.

As every student learns in a different way, teachers will be able to guide students according to their aptitude.

Small-class teaching will also help students enjoy more educational resources.

Moreover, it will be easier for the teachers to control their class. This will eradicate distractions and disturbances during lessons, ensuring a good learning atmosphere in school.

When a complex theory is taught, students often hesitate to ask questions. Some of them are scared to clarify what they don't understand in front of a roomful of students.

But when there are fewer students in a class, they would be more willing to express their opinions.

Also, smaller class sizes force students to interact more closely with each other, thus improving relationships and creating a closer bond between classmates.

In a recent survey, all student respondents preferred small-class teaching.

In addition, 60 per cent said they would be more willing to voice their opinions in smaller classes and would be happy after doing so.

In a smaller class, every student has a chance to share what they have learned, and impart knowledge to others.

With so many advantages, small-class teaching is an extremely effective way to improve Hong Kong's education system.

Hence, I fully support small-class teaching in Hong Kong.

Last week's winner is Germaine Sng Qi Min