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The Classroom as an Evolving Genre

ramgarali's picture

            Genres allow us to communicate with each other and challenge our thoughts. Genres have been emerging and evolving because of sociological and psychological aspects. Classrooms can be considered a genre of their own due to the fact they are in constant evolution but they are a genre within the genre that is schools.  The genre of classrooms branches out to the evolution of our thoughts and the evolution of the classroom as a learning space and the technology that enriches our experience. For the longest time, classrooms have been defined as enclosed spaces where students go to learn. It is a collaborative effort between students and professors to make classrooms a safe and confortable environment that inspires students to disagree without launching personal attacks, stereotyping, judging, and encourages and expects everyone to respectfully disagree without disagreeing with you as a whole.  Students often bring their own experiences and expectations on what they would like to learn. The classroom is constantly evolving as a genre because vigorous discussions encourage us students to challenge each other’s opinions for the sake of better understanding of the lessons at hand as well as the world outside the classroom. It is important for me to find that balance without losing my identity is something that can be a positive experience if I feel I can trust my classmates and professors when I express myself without worrying about being stereotyped or have assumptions being made without  being asked to clarify my views. With that being said, the genre of ourselves, our character (addressed on the first day of class) is interlinked with the evolution of the classroom.  Being part of creating a safe environment for learning, growing and understanding not only of self but of others, will allow me to develop who I am and also aid the larger community.

     The classroom as a space has evolved throughout the years. Nowadays, the classroom can be wherever a professor choses (indoors or outdoors) depending on the subject matter that is being taught. When writing about classrooms, we must make reference to seating arrangements. Seating arrangements have changed teaching methods and can set the tone for a class. From personal experiences in this course (Literary Kinds), I find that sitting on a large table with my classmates allows me to closely interact with my classmates, I can see the person behind the thoughts and ideas, not just hear her from afar. This also forces me to come more prepared to class because I know that there is a larger possibility of me having to engage in a discussion. In this given environment it is easier a professor to jump into the discussion and push us to challenge our thoughts more than usual. On the other hand, courses that only feature lectures can often limit student participation, which leads to having a stating genre with minimal student input.

     What makes this genre so compelling  is that feedback is the force behind its success. Feedback has the power to mold discussions and help modify curriculums in order to enrich the learning experience.  This applies to written work as well; detailed comments allow students to fully benefit from the assignment.


              The evolution of the classroom as a genre is not complete without technology. Classrooms have come a long way due to the exponential advances in technology. Technology expands beyond just reading texts, helps demonstrate concepts, assign projects and assess progress it engages students who learn in different ways. Our course Literary Kinds is a living testimony because in the coming weeks we will be reading  Rebecca Skloot’s “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks”, that reading will be complemented by episode of “Law and Order” based on the book and a BBC recoding as well.  

              Nowadays, educational institutions, high schools and universities, offer students the opportunity of taking courses online. This forum allows students to take courses that may not be offered at their institution at their own pace wherever they want. People do not have to be members of a school, in terms of a physical space, but still benefit from a learning experience.

          The evolution of technology as a genre has been rapid but it is set to be evolving for a long time because the challenge of determining what works best for a classroom and keeping up with the pace of each advancement will always exist.

 Alongside the space we call classroom and the technology that enriches the experience of being in that physical space, comes the evolvement of ourselves. This is the most important genre out of the ones I have mentioned because our need to give and take constructive criticism makes us improve as human beings and with that growth we can contribute to the evolvement of classrooms and technology as genres.







kobieta's picture

Classroom Space as an Evolving Genre

One of the concepts of your papers that I really like is its exploration of how the classroom space is evolving. When Anne mentioned that four of us wrote on the evolution of the classroom, I immediately assumed that they would all be on the specific topic that I chose, which was the relationships between the professor and the student. But, this is a topic that really interests me.

In your paper, you mention that because some institutions now have online courses, "People do not have to be members of a school, in terms of a physical space, but still benefit from a learning experience."

It would be interesting if you expanded on this and test whether or not online courses may sometimes be better than being in a physical classroom, especially because you said that "lectures can often limit student participation, which leads to having a stating genre with minimal student input." Of course, even the genre of online courses has much variety. There are courses that make you read then take a comprehensive test. There's also that new course here at Bryn Mawr in which students turn in papers or get involved by tweeting, and my personal favorite, online PE courses, which my younger sister took last school year. Do online courses provide a better alternative to learning or just stunt it even more? It would be interesting to answer this question. Thanks for sharing this; it made me re-think the evolution of the genre of classrooms!

Anne Dalke's picture

evolving genres?

When I responded to your last paper, I asked you about the boundaries you had been setting up there between education "inside" and "outside" the walls of institutions. What interests me here, contrariwise, are all the boundaries you break down. Genre becomes, in your hands, any evolving form (is that right? your definition is implicit, not explicit, and I may not have captured it…): classrooms, technologies that enrich or expand those spaces, our own emerging selves…..

but the term "genre" is so loose--you seem to use it to encompass anything that grows and changes--that I'm not sure what your punch line is here: what is your claim, your argument, the motivating question you are addressing? You share an anecdote or two about changes happening in classrooms, and there are many more where those come from (for a particularly exciting rendition of emerging educational practices, see Sir Ken Robinson's animated production of Changing Education Paradigms). But what are you saying here, about what causes genres to evolve, or what structures or guides those changes? What intervention are you offering, in the emergence of new literary (and clearly other, related) "kinds"? Is your account progressive, like vspaeth's? Or insisting on multiplicity, like Ayla's?