Actually Learning In School

In school, I’ve always been in classes with 30+ students…in college many of my classes had 300+ kids. The classes I took for the Spanish major were a little better at having smaller class sizes…until they turned many of our upper-division Spanish classes into lecture courses, aka turning our previous 30 student class into a 90 person class…virtually eliminating the conversational portion and replacing this with a lecture from the professor. (and how does this help us learn Spanish…?)

At this point, I became really good at memorizing answers for the multiple choice tests given to these massive language classes…but I’m pretty sure memorizing answers with completely unrelated mnemonic devices isn’t the proper path to language acquisition.

Oh, and at this point too, I’m pretty sure the native speakers were loving the Spanish major because they have been practicing speaking / hearing Spanish at home since day 1, so…for example…the “listening” portion of tests…well, this was a piece of cake for them because they’ve grown up hearing and speaking Spanish so it’s like second nature. However, for those of us who did not grow up with the language…well, let’s just say, by having such huge class sizes and not having the opportunity to converse and practice speaking…well, let’s just say, it was a challenge.

Oh, and let me also say…I hands down learned 100% more Spanish in the semester I spent studying abroad in Mexico, than in the 8 years of Spanish I took in high school and college. Perhaps this is because I had about an average of 5 students in all of my upper-division courses in Mexico and the structure of the program was very much an experiential one. Instead of being talked at, we conversed and did many hands on projects, took field trips, etc. I’ll also note that I earned 2x as many upper division credits during the time I was gone than I would have earned taking classes at UO (I earned ~28 credits abroad and 12 credits is considered a full-time student at UO). I feel safe to say that if I spent 1 year, maybe 2 in that type of environment, I would have Spanish down, backward and forward. But no, I spent 1 semester learning the way kids should be taught, and the other 7 1/2 years…well…still trying to figure out what I got from that.

Anyway, I am digressing…and quickly…the education system is something I could certainly go off on…so yes, let’s end it there for now.

The point I’m trying to make is this. I’ve been taking a Greek class since September. There are four students in my class. I have learned more Greek in the 4 1/2 months (no class in Dec!) than Spanish I learned in the first four years in high school. Perhaps rather than cramming 3 classes into one (like my Spanish classes), we could take one class, divide it by 3, and have kids go to school for 1/2 the time, but actually learn and benefit from the smaller class sizes.

Anyway, this is what we did last class. It’s probably all Greek to you (ha ha ha I’m so funny) BUT, the stuff in this picture is a little story about a classroom and a teacher. And the teacher is learning all the kids names. And one kid forgot his pencil and the teacher became angry with him. And the kid said: well, it’s not like I forgot EVERYTHING, just a pencil!

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