The Way Back: A Curious Classroom

Students lounge in the College of Business Administration’s experimental classroom, 1971.

Long before the pandemic forced students to find alternative classrooms in their homes, professors and academics often played around with the traditional school setting. Think back to the classic elementary school zoo field trip, an English class outside discussing Shakespeare on the South Mall on a particularly nice day, or even monthslong study abroad trips. 

In the early 1970s, research showed that an informal atmosphere was more conducive to learning, according to the Cactus yearbook. Drawing on that idea, UT’s College of Business Administration created its own “experimental classroom” in the Business-Economics Building (now the George Kozmetsky Center for Business Education) in 1971, nine years after the building’s completion. Intended primarily for marketing seminars, Room 252 contained no desks, pulpit, or chairs, instead featuring a shag-carpeted conversation pit where students could relax while deep in discussion or while listening to marketing professor W.T. Tucker lecture on consumer behavior. Students could often be found in there kicking off their shoes while lying on the floor or the classroom’s modular carpeted platforms.   

Today’s experimental classrooms strive for the same goal of creating an open and informal place for learning, utilizing the latest technologies, rolling chairs, and unusual desk configurations. But that shag carpet is long gone.  

CREDIT: Courtesy of UT Texas Student Publications Photographs, The Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin


No comments

Be the first one to leave a comment.

Post a Comment