Territory Stories

Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 1 May 1991



Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 1 May 1991

Other title

Parliamentary Record 3


Debates for 6th Assembly 1990 - 1994; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 6th Assembly 1990 - 1994




Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory





Publisher name

Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory

Place of publication


File type



Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

Copyright owner

Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



Parent handle


Citation address


Page content

DEBATES - Wednesday 1 May 1991 The question of class size has been raised in this Assembly on many occasions. It is now more than 11 years since I was a classroom teacher. In fact, I taught until 1 April 1980 before officially resigning, and maybe the date was significant. During much of my teaching career, I was not really aware of the advantages of big classes. I recall having a Year 11 geology class which contained 44 students. Whilst I had a personal interest in the subject, I had studied it for only 1 year at university and, in 12 years of teaching, had generally taught it only in junior science and to a limited extent in matriculation physics, where it was pertinent to crystallography, x-rays etc. I enjoyed my class of 44 students. I had to work hard but we seemed to be getting on pretty well. The students were starting to catch on and were firing up nicely when someone in the Teachers Federation heard about the size of the class. The word spread behind my back and suddenly I found that the class had been split in half. We could never regain the same enthusiasm in that half-size class afterwards. I have always scratched my head about it, but I believe that it works in this way. If a class is large enough and children find compatible peers, the teaching process is far broader than teacher to student and student to teacher. With compatible students, a great deal of good teaching occurs between student and student. They ask one another what the teacher meant and they give explanations to one another. Children learn a great deal in that process because there is no better way to learn than by trying to teach somebody else. Anyone who has taught will realise the truth of that. If you are unsure of yourself when you try to teach someone else, it very evident. When students help to teach one another, the whole learning process gels. Based on my own experience, I do not believe that small classes necessarily result in better teaching. It is a matter of children learning from children. It depends on how the teacher runs the class. In a large class that is properly run, there is no room for any nonsense and there is plenty of hard work. Big classes worked in the past and people were given a good education in them. I have listened to the debate on the education cuts. I have also tried to put myself in the minister's position in terms of how one would go about deciding where to make cuts. It is a no-win situation. Anything which affects children is an emotional issue. However, when all the dust settles, I do not believe that there will be a great deal of detriment to education. If our attitudes are right, I believe that there can even be an improvement in education. It will certainly be an experience for the children of Traeger Park Primary School. If their parents support and encourage them instead of saying that it is Traeger Park or nothing, it could be a positive experience. Many of these children are fairly shy. If they ran rub shoulders with a wider group of students, I do not believe that they will be worse off. A member interjecting. Mr COLLINS: I said 'wider', but it may be 'whiter' too. It does not matter. We live together in the community and I believe that positive things result from it. I really cannot see how the minister could have gone about the process in any other way. Rumours are circulating but one cannot prevent that. I think that every school should have been looked at and I am sure that they were. 825

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are advised that this website may contain the names, voices and images of people who have died, as well as other culturally sensitive content. Please be aware that some collection items may use outdated phrases or words which reflect the attitude of the creator at the time, and are now considered offensive.

We use temporary cookies on this site to provide functionality.
By continuing to use this site without changing your settings, you consent to our use of cookies.