The problem with “cool” classes

Parker Rushton, Staff Writer

Every classroom is different. You are getting many different ideas from many different people, but one thing that most heavily effects the classroom is how a teacher teaches their class. We have all  had a class where the teacher is the “cool” teacher with a very low stress classroom environment, and while many students enjoy classes like this, I pose the question, can an environment that is too laid back be detrimental to the students?

A lot of these “cool” classes equate to nothing more than bored students who actually want to learn something taking mindless notes and watching videos while the students who do less ignore them and talk the whole class period away, because the teacher does little to prevent it. Many of us have had a class, where the teacher puts a word document on the smart board and everyone spends a large portion of class time copying it down. I’ve had classes where that is basically the only thing the class had to offer.

An entire class of my day begins with one of a series of YouTube videos called “Crash Course” about the subject,  followed up by us quietly filling in blanks about the video we watched. We watch one of this series every day and the blanks are just part of a direct quote from the video. Then we have some questions on the board and a worksheet that, for the most part, is answering questions from the textbook. No one is learning anything using this strategy, they are all just mindlessly copying down what they hear for the grade, and it’s not just this class. There are many other classes, mainly English and Social Studies classes, that also use this technique.

While some classes are laid back, they are still structured and have some semblance of order to them. What happens, though, when a teacher casually allows their classroom to devolve into chaos? A teacher of mine who will remain unnamed has been having many students wanting to leave his class due to how distracting other students are allowed to be. One time that included a student disruptively putting ravioli in his front shirt pocket while he and some of his friends ate from it, getting ravioli sauce all over the student’s shirt, and causing a distraction to all other students involved.

The reaction to this disruptive snack? Nothing. The students even used this distraction to mock the teacher asking if he wanted some of said ravioli. While this event did not happen in one of his classes that I attended, a student who recently dropped his class recounted the story to me, and like her, I found it absolutely ridiculous that behavior such as this was being allowed in a classroom setting.

So what do we do about these classes? Should every classroom just be extremely strict to keep order? I don’t think so. Laid back classes can be done right, in a way that is engaging and orderly, while also being fun and chilled out. Mr. Kolloch is a teacher I think did this very well my sophomore year. It was a note-heavy course like those described earlier, except he kept it engaging and even fun and entertaining much of the time. It had a very laid back feeling to it, but it was also kept in order. We all love having the fun laid back classes, but if we are going to be in school for so many hours a day shouldn’t we do something productive with it rather than letting it be a grind? Learning can be made fun and many teachers accomplish this, but having fun and being disruptive are two very different things.