Levy Lectures Listeners On Classroom Challenges

Rachel Mills

Krieder Hall was packed on Feb. 22 with attendees awaiting the discussion led by Superintendent/ President Audre Levy on the overall look of the classroom in 2020. The discussion covered how the classroom look and dynamic has changed since the early days and suggested trends for the future.

Levy began by having students and faculty express their personal and career goals for the future and asked students to consider what the classroom may look like in the year 2020. She then had audience members exchange ideas with the person sitting next to them.

Chris Beltran, a theater arts student, said he would hopefully be married and raising a family, a few true friends, and that he hoped to act in movies.

Going back to the beginning of formal education in America, Levy began explaining the look and feel of the classroom setting. In the past the school year only lasted nine months at most. Students of all different ages and grade levels were put into one room and learned together.

“Students didn’t have homework in those times due to the lack of light resources,” said Levy.

Textbooks of the past were rare. The method of teaching conducted was different as well. Students learned in groups more than from he teacher.
Progressing forward, Levy described the educational experience of the years 1950 through 1980. Nine months was still the average length of the school year as it had been earlier, but the new concept of summer school was introduced into the system. Schools started to break up the different groups of students according to age and learning level. Primers were then issued to students at the start of the teaching process. Among these primers one popular series was the “Dick and Jane” series. Other tools that helped facilitate student learning were flash cards and workbooks. The furniture in the classroom started to become more movable and flexible.

The classroom changes up to present were then presented. Desks today are easily moved and can be placed in a variety of shapes and positions. The majority of classrooms had iron desks which were nailed to the floor back in the day. Audio visual and other technologies available play a vital role in student’s learning adventures. Now students do not just simply attend school for nine months because the school year is almost year round.

At one point in the Powerpoint lecture Levy displayed pictures of preschool and kindergarteners in their classroom setting. She engaged the audience by explaining what was going on in each of the photos. Levy said she was amazed that the technology the young students had available to them at their school. She had pictures of small children working at computer workstations much like on the GCC campus. Other pictures showed a child playing and taking photos on a digital camera.

These images, Levy said, “tell us what the future of education looks like because these students will be the GCC students of the year 2020.” Her predictions were that students would soon be seeing the “emergence of more online and multimedia based classrooms.”

Most importantly, students of the future would have their mobile communication devices incorporated into the teaching world some how. Future education methods will have to find ways to cater to the short attention span of the students of tomorrow. More visual and moving stimulants could help address this issue.

Steve Taylor, an English professor, contested Levy’s research on the attention peak of the current student.
“The current student’s interest peaks after 15 minutes,” said Taylor.

Levy told the audience that the classroom of tomorrow will inevitably have to cater to the fast food student of tomorrow.
This fast food student defined by Levy exhibits the need and desire for things on the go much like a McDonald’s meal. The same student also would much rather read a bullet point list with short brief descriptions than read a long lengthy novel. Because of this the classroom of tomorrow needs to be readily available anywhere, any time and to any one.

Why have the students of today and those of tomorrow become like this? A rise in students who play video games could very likely be a contributing factor. To help with this problem teachers and students of tomorrow could see the use of 3D holograms and simulations introduced and used in the classroom.

Some teachers and faculty members on campus echo in agreement with what Levy sees as our future classroom, Ann Cassidy, from the instructional service center said, “I thought the analysis of 2020 presented by Levy was right on.”

Skill specialization and focusing on certain skills and abilities was also covered by Levy as a high possibility of happening.
“I questioned why the students of today and tomorrow aren’t learning what past students learned,” Ellen Oppenberg said. She thinks that masters like Shakespeare should be taught to students to help them grow intellectually.

The lecture presented by Levy opened new and exciting opportunities and helped students to see what the classroom of 2020 get a view of what the classroom holds. It is the first in a series of four humanities and social science lectures to be held through the spring semester.