Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Many choir members know that I joined "Facebook" recently. I've actually been a member of the community for a few years but recently started accepting "friends."

I should post positive/negative thoughts about the experience soon. However, today's blog post is devoted to the topic of "distractions" and it's dedicated to Brian Denton, who happened to begin facebook chatting with me this morning while he was in the middle of his summer school education class.

It brought to mind this article that I read the other day . . . an article that opens with this joke:
The students sit in class, tapping away at their laptops as the boring old law professor mechanically plods through his lecture. Except one. Instead of hunching over a portable computer or a notebook, he’s playing solitaire with a deck of cards on his desk. The professor halts his droning. “What are you doing?” he demands. The student shrugs. “My laptop is broken,” he says.
Now I know that classes can sometimes be boring.

I am also very familiar with the temptations of a notebook computer and a wireless internet connection.

Here's my wisdom for today: resist the temptation to surf the internet during class. Invest yourself in what is being discussed, even if it is boring.

The internet is a master of distraction . . . it can take you away from important relationships and significant dialogue.

I know that I can't watch TV and surf the internet at the same time. I also know that you can't chat on facebook and have any idea of what is discussed in class.

To be fair, Brian wasn't the first surfer I knew about. I occasionally observe other classes for one reason or another . . . and I was HORRIFIED at what I witnessed from the back of the classroom. At the beginning of class, one young woman dominated the discussion of her personal hard feelings for the Iraq war. Five minutes later she was on Facebook, Ebay, Email, and several other sites.

It was ridiculous. I was observing the class because the professor was nominated as one of the universities best teachers . . . one of the most accomplished and one of the most acclaimed. And here this girl was thumbing her nose at his class so that she could check her email. I was embarassed for her and her lack of respect.

And it's contagious (more from the article):
“Visitors to classes, as well as many of our students, report that the rate of distracting Internet usage during class is astounding. Remarkably, usage appears to be contagious, if not epidemic. Several observers have reported that one student will visit a gossip site or shop for shoes, and within twenty minutes an entire row is shoe shopping. Half the time a student is called on, the question needs to be repeated.”
I already know the typical student response:

"It's not my fault, the professor is boring!"

I'm calling BS on that one. Even the most captivating TV series "Lost" is boring if you aren't paying attention.

"I can multi-task."

BS. You can't. No one can. My computer can. You can't.

Live life, everyone. There's time to surf later.


Anonymous said...

It is quite a timely moment that you are posting this. I have decided to "go paper" with my summer classes this time around.

Brian said...

In all honesty and fairness, my teacher was running late to class and I got on briefly to check my messages and then my email and the rest of the class time I used my laptop to take notes from his discussion. :)

Holly S. said...

The reference to the law professor...LOL

It definitely happens!!

G said...

Oh, Brian, Brian, Brian...listen to yourself...

Ashley said...

I love you, Nancy.

Well, at least you can't get online while in choir...

Dr. Kristine Hurst-Wajszczuk said...

Amen, I say to Dr. Copeland, and again I say, Amen. It can easy to take for granted the many opportunities we have in this life, and attending college is one of them. Most of us do not have the opportunity to learn in such an intensive environment ever again in our lives, so soak it for all you're worth while you can. Give it your full attention, and you will have something of real value when you're done...even if it was "boring" at the time.

Dr. C is right: you can't multi-task. You CAN do several things simultaneously, each of them less well than if you did them with your full attention.