CM Archive
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Margaret Gayfer, editor

Toronto, Canadian Education Associa­tion, 1991. 57pp, paper, $8.00, ISBN 0-920315-48-8
Available from the Cana­dian Education Association, Suite 8-200, 252 Bloor Street West, Toronto, Ont. M5S 1V5. CIP

Reviewed by Ed Somerville.

Volume 19 Number 5
1991 October

This research-based report is in­tended to examine the educational implications of the multi-grade class­room. The research was carried out by Dr. Joel Gajadharsingh of the Depart­ment of Curriculum Studios of the College of Education at the University of Saskatchewan. The book is edited by Margaret Gayfer, a former editor of education magazines for Maclean Hunter Canadian Publishing.

A combination of such factors as decreased budgets, declining birth rates, lack of physical classroom space, and declining enrolments has resulted in the creation of the multi-grade classroom. Based on information gathered for this report, the authors contend that one in seven classrooms in Canada is multi-grade, and that twenty per cent of Canadian students are in multi-grade classes.

One of the important conclusions of this report is that the decision to create these multi-grade classrooms is most often based not on pedagogical reasons, but rather on administrative ones. The book attempts to analyse data as it relates to several myths associated with these classes. One myth is that students learn less in multi-grade classrooms, and the other is that students in these classes arc more independent. The book contends that psycho-social and cogni­tive development of students in multi-grades are generally reported to be comparable to or superior to those of students in single-grade classes.

The book does not try to disguise that this report is an exploratory study. The data on which the results and recommendations are based was gathered by questionnaires. Informa­tion is provided on the extent of multi-grade classes, what grades the practice is most prevalent in, the types of schools and districts that employ the practice, and also what methodologies are used in such classes.

The chapter organization of the book reflects the research-based nature of this report. Chapter 1 contains an introduc­tion to the phenomena or reality of the multi-grade classroom. Chapters 2 and 3 contain a review of the literature on the topic in both French and English. The interpretation and analysis of the data is contained in chapter 4. This last chapter indicates that the results have important implications for both educa­tors and parents, regarding the tatter's reasonable anxiety over the educational effectiveness of the multi-grade class­room.

Although this book is research based, the edited report provides important information in a readable format for the layman, educator or administrator. Its recommendations provide an important starting point for dealing with this increasingly prevalent educational topic.

Ed Somerville, Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School, Red Deer, Alta.
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