Chaotic Classrooms

Published September 1, 2001

“In our few years in this school system, in both my younger and older child’s classrooms, disruption never seems to abate and learning is constantly impeded. A handful of kids are always utterly unable to stay seated in their chairs or hold their pencils for more than a few seconds. My kids have come home with headaches from the effort of trying to filter out the chaos and absorb information. . . . Can’t I re-route my tax money to benefit my own family, rather than subsidize the parking of delinquents at the principal’s door?”
A mother with two children in a “quality”
suburban school system
quoted by Dennis Byrne, Chicago Tribune, February 26, 2001

“[Teacher L3] dwelled on topics with individual students for long periods of time while the rest of the class fidgeted, talked, and distracted each other. In determining for how many days school had been in session, for example, she carried on a dialogue with one student for 5 minutes at the front of the rug area. The other students appeared bored and many carried on side conversations. The discipline techniques teacher L3 used were positive and humane (e.g. “James, when I hear you talking, I can’t hear Michael.”), but they were mostly ineffective in bringing about desired results. Not only did students talk among themselves; some left the group to wander about the room.”
From the December 2000 report on Wisconsin’s SAGE small class-size program
Center for Education Research, Analysis, and Innovation
School of Education, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee