High School Nap Time
To the casual observer, large group was a room full of 50 to 150 students — some sleeping, some taking notes, some reading day old assignments and others daydreaming the hour away.
For the students it was an inevitable part of the high school experience, since large group formed an integral part of all English classes as well as psychology, history and accounting.
Most students learned to place each large group session into one of four categories and looked forward to the class with anticipation or dread according to its classification. These were 1) the filmstrip, film, record category including W.C. Fields films and broken filmstrips, 2) the note taking period complete with the date Emily Bronte’s sister’s dog died, 3) the guest speaker, 4) the games, so aptly recalled by Nicky Gyles.
“I feel the large group system stands on a basically sound theory. However, one aspect of large group did cause me emotional anguish. Games involving singling out certain individuals and the social ridicule which followed was quite exasperating, especially when it happened to me.”
According to Mrs. Kathy Roy, senior English teacher, the purpose of large group was to allow speakers to talk to all the students at once as their schedules might not permit them to speak to each class individually. Large group also enabled teachers to shae the work load of offering lectures and showing filmstrips.
“We are not here to entertain,” observed one teacher.
Student opinions, on the other hand, were mixed.
“It’s a good idea,” said John Horn. “One advantage is that it breaks the routine. Students find it boring because it’s to formal and teachers often have uninteresting presentations.”
“Large groups are beneficial when they are used for speakers, film strips and things like that,” pointed out Kathy Bell, “But at times they could be very boring.”
— 1976 Amethyst