I could really relate to the video “A Vision of Students Today.” During undergrad, I would sit in classes that did not interest me and multitask the entire period. It always left me with a sense of guilt but also with a sense of anger that I felt like I had no other options because I was not learning anything from the instructor’s lecture. Luckily, I had the chance to transfer into a major that truly resonated with me on a personal level, HNFE – dietetics. Yet, I still had to sit through classes which were supposed to provide me with a well-rounded background in addition to my science courses, but ended up being just another check in the box. I have only had one class like this in graduate school…it reminded me how frustrating the system can be. I had to be there for 3 hours…for attendance purposes…but I gleaned nothing from the lecture and spent a few hours outside of class each week TEACHING MYSELF.
While it seems easy to focus on the bleak perspective of the system, there is also a lot of change occurring that provides promise for the future. I have taken a handful of life-changing courses; these courses were designed to engage students…giving us the confidence to speak in front of others, the skills to summarize our thoughts succinctly, and the information to be successful both in the course and BEYOND the classroom. You know what these courses had in common? Innovative and creative minded instructors, who were approachable and encouraged us to think outside the box. They weren’t afraid to do that hard thing and go against the norm. They didn’t hide behind PowerPoints and they didn’t ask a question and answer it right away…they used real-life activities in class and waited and prodded us to truly think and talk amongst ourselves. The projects we did allowed us to be creative and didn’t provide an endless list of guidelines. One of my first classes that challenged me in more ways than tests and mindless assignments was an Honors Course called “From Memex to Youtube.” The class was taught by Gardner Campbell and is one of my only early undergraduate classes I actually REMEMBER. We talked about technology and how it can change the face of education if used interactively. The class was engaging, involving very complex discussions and projects. It put me outside of my comfort zone and demanded me to think independently
These are the instructors that will change the system. However, there’s not enough of these instructors to teach to the masses…because another commonality among my most rewarding classes was the small class size. This is the biggest issue with our classrooms today…and it desperately needs to be addressed…but how? It will take years for these innovative-minded instructors to make a large enough change to impact the way universities do things, but the optimist in me believes this wheel is starting to turn.