Relating school violence and school size
To the Editor:
I am a product of a mega school. My graduation class had over 600 in it. The student population was over 2,500. I was not an athlete and knew if I didn’t study to get an academic scholarship there was little chance of success. I survived my mega school experiences through loving, caring parents.
I came from a rural area which had few neighbors. The few children from my area were bused for over 45 minutes, one way, to get to school. I slept on the way to school. Many did not sleep on the way and were trouble for the bus driver. I do not know any of my former middle school nor high school classmates and graduated a junior and was happy to leave that environment.
Folks sit around and talk about the “Good Old Days” and the friends and experiences they had in high school. I’ve heard some speak of their class reunions and staying in contact with their old high school friends. That is where relationships and friendships are formed for life. People would reminisce of graduating classes of 40 to 120, maybe a few more. I envy those, in a positive way.
Now, our schools have been consolidated, putting huge numbers of children together. Some graduating classes are over 500 with a total student population of 2,500 or more. The larger the student population, the more vicious the “pecking order.” In many cases the behavior in the novel “Lord of the Flies” begins to take place.
When we had smaller schools the children had a greater chance of positive interaction with their principals, teachers, counselors, and peers. The smaller schools allowed for a greater participation in extra curricular activities. Some of the less-talented athletes had a chance to participate in sports. This also allowed for more athletic and academic scholarships to college. The smaller classes developed a cohesion among classmates, a unity that stays for life.
In the larger schools, unless a child is gifted in a certain area, the child is lost in a sea of youth. The child then becomes a number and many times is recognized, as just that, a number. With a flood of young men and women in the classroom, it is very difficult for an instructor to recognize a silent child that internalizes disappointment or hurt badly, which can lead to destructive behavior upon others or themselves. In the 1940s, experiments were done in raising children in a mass production environment with little human interaction. For the most part, the children were not well-adjusted mentally nor physically to be productive citizens in society.
We ask, “Where have the schools failed?”
The schools and instructors haven’t failed. It’s the people that have encouraged us to make our schools a factory or manufacturing environment. We cannot treat our young adults like an item on an assembly line of mass production. The blueprint for running a business or factory, are all well and good, but children are not components to be put together. They need love, caring, kindness and positive supervision to become productive members of society.
So, the tearing down of our smaller schools and building mega schools may have saved money, but in the long run, our youth are the ones paying for it through lives that lack true human substance and meaning. Once a human’s mind has gone through certain stages that were improper in development, reshaping flawed personality characteristics or cognitive restructuring takes years to achieve.
Smaller could be better.
708 Albin Pond Rd.