“I hope you appreciate the size of this room.”
When Professor Kyle Bennett opened our afternoon class with those words, I was wondering how, exactly, they related to Reformed Doctrine. The room, M01 in McGavran Hall, was not much different than any other classroom on the floor. White board, tables, chairs, podium, noisy window air conditioner. Yet, it was one of the bigger classrooms, holding approximately 30 students. The room was not filled to capacity and I began to wonder if he thought it was nice that we could spread out a little. It was, after all, slightly warm that day. However, Bennett seemed serious, and passionate about the words he had just said. And as he repeated them, slower this time, something clicked and I understood what he was really attempting to get through to us.
It was not so much the size of the physical room, but the number of students it held. Less than 20 faces stared back as he elaborated on what he had said. Bennett explained that the number of students in the class was ideal for learning. Enough to foster good discussion, but not too many so as to allow, and in a way require, everyone to participate. At Providence, where the student-to-faculty ratio is 7:1, the “size of the room” is easily taken for granted. Many have never experienced anything different.
But, that afternoon I recalled my very first class, my freshman year of college. The classroom was at least 4 times the size, the professor had to use a microphone in order to be heard, and if you sat at the back of the room, binoculars were required in order to decipher his facial expressions. I was a nameless face in a sea of over 100 students. This kind of environment did not require any participation, and I was not sure how that percentage of my grade would be calculated. In the environment Providence has created, this type of calculation is possible. Students are impelled to get involved in the process of their education by thinking critically, discussing openly, and participating actively. Professor Bennett is right, this type of environment is ideal; the size of the room is something we should be thankful for. So, allow me to concur, and admonish my fellow students by saying, “I hope you appreciate the size of this room.”