This post answers the 28th question from my TeacherToolkit Thinking page of Thunks.
I posed this (Thunk)to my colleagues and they asked their to t about it too.
7.30am: Friday morning, the last Friday before half-term, I sent a (dreaded!) ‘all staff’ email.
Where did we coin the word ‘classroom’?
What I didn’t expect, was the immediate flurry of responses…
Later in the day,thought it would be a great idea, to turn the question into a fun activity for staff to complete (for professional thinking).
Classrooms can be flexible. They can be flipped. They can be inside or outside a building. Classrooms can be full of technology; comfortable; confined; light and airy; or over-crowed and over-heated. Classrooms most importantly, can be intimidating for some, and challenging for others. A classroom can also be informative, inspiring and progressive spaces, where memories are formed and tangible-learning can ‘click’ – that can last a lifetime!
So, I asked the students about the word ‘classroom’. Here is what they (unedited) said:
- Rooms for quality people – we’re all classy!
- A group of people put together by how clever they are or what subject they’re good at.
- A formal place with good etiquette.
- Class: A group of students taught by a teacher.
- Classroom: a purpose-built room for teaching in.
- Class: A group of people learning one subject from a teacher.
- We are a class because we are all in one room learning one thing.
Here’s what teachers said:
- I would assume that it is derived from classifying, whereby students are grouped by age/intelligence.
- Did it start in Victorian times where ‘class’ was such a big thing?
- Is it because original lessons would be based around a topic of ‘classics’ or the topics would be classical?
- Economy/business/first class areas on planes/trains/boats.
- Class / klas / Noun
- A set or category of things having some property or attribute in common and differentiated from others by kind, type, or quality.
- The property or common attribute, or common goal in this case is to learn. The class-rooms are differentiated by subject.
- I believe it originally comes from the German ‘klasse’ meaning great / smashing / terrific!
- I understand class to be a group based upon similar characteristics. For example, birds are a class (not scientifically a ‘class’) as they all have feathers and lay eggs. So, a classroom would be a room where people with similar characteristics are. For example, all aged 11-12 years.
- It is where we group people of differing intelligence and therefore different social classes.
Apparently the term is based upon a mis-translation of a 16th century early guide to schools. The ‘early’ schools were based in “solars” – glass room, for longer hours of light . Due to a typographical mis-reading, these rooms later became the “class”- rooms with which we are now familiar.
It’s the arena in which class is perpetuated (Marxist analysis) or where the seeds of social mobility are sown (functionalist analysis). Class being the class divide in the 18th 19th 20th century!
So, like all great Thunks, there’s no one answer, just another set of questions to ponder…
What do you think?
Written by AHT Mark Warner and edited and posted by @TeacherToolkit.
This article is part of @TeacherToolkit’s TTkitThunks 100 series.
Update: 17th June 2013
- Teacher Thunk – How did we get the term ‘class’ room? (mwarnerblog.wordpress.com)
- @ClassroomCarrot is used in my classroom to reward student progress, by @TeacherToolkit (teachertoolkit.me)