On September 7th Professor Cathy Davidson and Dr. Christina Katopodis held an amazing event to celebrate the release of their book The New College Classroom. I have not read the book but the information they provided during their presentation makes me want to read it. The topic of changing the way we think about higher education and changing the way we teach students, so they reach their learning goals, to be very fascinating. In all my years in school I never considered the topic of changing the way classrooms operate so during the presentations many moments stood out to me.
Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez kicked off the event with a story about a time he was taking aback when a student asked for extra time on an exam and the Chancellor judged him a first. After that interaction Chancellor Rodriguez committed his life to learning how students learn and coming up with new ideas to support students with disabilities. This moment meant a lot to me because I am a student with a disability. Having an illness does a lot to your body and your mind. Professor may not understand what we go through but giving accommodations to students with a disability it allows us to have tools we need to perform at our best. The topic of supporting students, overall, is elaborated throughout the presentation.
Students, from all backgrounds, can be uplifted in the classroom by using new learning and grading techniques. I learned that 19th century Industrial Age techniques have been dominating our classrooms for years so that style of education is outdated. Going forward it is important for us to recognize and understand that the environment we have presently in the 21st century must be accounted for. We are fighting against racism, sexism, ableism and fighting for inclusivity, empathy and recognizing that intersectionality plays a role in all college classrooms. In the classical college classroom professors give the lecture and then expect students to retain all that information but, more often than not. it does not happen. The presenters informed us that it has been proven that when students are involved, or in “in the driver’s seat”, of their own education they understand concepts better. I learned that this theory is called metacognition. By asking students their educational goals, considering how this class can benefit them and so on we get young adults to appreciate all the classes they take and not just half-heartly do it to get it over with. They will feel energized because “people know the future they want; they just haven’t been asked”. This is a highlight moment for me. Everyone knows their needs and the goals they want to achieve in life but its never asked. People go through kindergarten to 12th grade without being asked who they want to be and how the educational system can help them get there. This pattern continues into higher education. As one of the presenters said, “we’ve failed students”. There has been a growing population of young adults who don’t see the need for higher education because the current educational system does not support their highest good when it is not supporting them or has failed them.
All in all, I enjoyed being there for the event. The topic of creating a new college classroom has opened my eyes up to a lot of things regarding the current educational system in place.
We need a new college classroom.