It is undeniable that we now live in a multitasking culture. We’re no longer impressed that our cell phones can make a call from nearly anywhere in the world. Instead we’re frustrated if it can’t make a phone call while we listen to music and play Angry Birds all at the same time.
Some argue that this implies certain attention-deficit tendencies in our generation, but I believe that it is only a compliment to our efficiency. Why should I only focus on one task when technology has made it so I can juggle three? Why should I give a class all of my attention when I can get by playing computer games in the back row? Why do professors care enough to ban computers in their classrooms?
The first and most obvious complaint with a laptop ban is that it punishes the students who truly prefer to take notes on their computers. In first and second grade, when I was still learning how to have legible handwriting, I’ll admit that I didn’t try very hard. This was not because I was lazy but rather because, even as a 7-year-old, I could see the writing on the wall — or should I say the neatly typed text on the wall.
I knew even back then that the idea of turning in anything handwritten in the future in either an academic or professional setting was ludicrous. Even my 7-year-old mind knew that I wouldn’t be taking my flying car to college only to write things out by hand.
Now, in 2011, I find myself sitting in a college classroom deprived of both my computer and my flying car. I understand why professors would prefer not to have students browsing Facebook in class, but without being able to type my notes, as I’m sure many of my classmates would agree, I am completely lost.
I have sat through countless tirades by professors on the first day of class explaining their “no-computer” rules and the terrible distractions that computers can be, but I can never help but think “so what?” Maybe I do lack self-control and can’t help but stray from my note-taking to check my e-mail or watch a cat play the piano, but why does it matter? If I don’t distract my classmates and don’t disturb the class, then I don’t see why I can’t do whatever I want during lecture.
One could argue that getting an A in a class by doing the bare minimum is a gross waste of an educational opportunity. We pay this school and our professors to be given the opportunity to learn, and if I waste these opportunities by spending class time playing solitaire or, say, writing a column for Pipe Dream, then I’m just wasting my money. At the end of the day it’s the professor’s job to teach and it’s my job to learn.
I’ll admit it. I understand that it’s rude. My professor is trying to help me and I’m not paying attention. But what if my professor’s class doesn’t require my full attention? What if I have an A in the class just from reading the assigned books and half-listening during lecture? Why shouldn’t I be able to download a movie, play Minesweeper and untag photos of myself from last weekend while you drone on about things I read the night before?
In the workplace, later in my life, if I devout my full attention to something that only needs a third of it or perhaps even none of it then I’m wasting time and money for my company. It’s time that professors understand that for our future careers, learning efficiency, multitasking, and how to prioritize work is far more practically important than knowing Caesar’s birthday.