Recently, some clients and I were chatting about childhood games and past times. Yes, I realize that this self-disclosure probably dated me, but heck, we were playing Jenga-Unchained, wherein each time a participant pulls a Jenga block successfully, s/he must answer a question about her or himself. So, I taught these youngsters a little something about the prehistoric days: the hours spent fording a river only to lose half my crew to dysentery on the Oregon Trail, the joys of Kid Pix, the accuracy of the MASH game, the dust from sidewalk chalk (and classroom chalk), the familiar sounds of AOL loading up its connection … If you missed that last one, I’ve included a short reminder:
It also made me think about learning and the differences/similarities that exist in classrooms now as compared to those, well, back in the day. For starters, the chalkboard has mostly been replaced by a “whiteboard” with dry erase markers. Instructors can now come to campus without a smock to keep their dark colored sweaters chalk-free. Also, the slide projector and its remarkably loudly clicking tray has been replaced by smart boards and projectors linked to computers. The general acceptance of different learning styles has been integrated into the school environment and instruction. And while we’re no longer playing Oregon Trail, we are experimenting with SPSS, taking into account possible risks by analyzing them with a statistical approach.
I’m currently working in a school environment for my practicum and was a teacher for the past 5+ years, so I know that although there are clearly differences in today’s classrooms, there are still some common threads that make them pretty similar to each other. Some students tend to wait until the last minute to complete an assignment (yes, this would be an accurate description of my less than ideal academic habits). Early morning classes continue to be on the quieter side and with a side of freshly brewed coffee. There is a rhythm of familiarity in most of my classes: come in, find “my spot,” give the smiling head nod acknowledgement to my peers, and get started on the day’s lesson. And pop stars with their shenanigans still are go-to conversation starters around an intergenerational lunch table. Some things never change.