21.8.08

BUYING THE RIGHT TO DISENGAGE. Slacker logic from Canada.

Second year Concordia University commerce student Matthew Pitts bought his first laptop three years ago — already ancient in computer years — and it is his steady companion. Pitts said it’s not always classroom business being conducted behind the laptop.

“Sure, there’s some Facebooking going on and checking e-mail, but if you want to do that in class, fine. After all you’re paying for the course so if you fail because you goofed off in class with your laptop instead of paying attention, whose fault is it?”

Margaret Soltan calls that a stupid argument.

This is a popular line among US college students too. Let’s recall what’s wrong with it.

Chances are your parents, not you, are paying for your college education. Chances are we, the taxpayers, are helping them out. The image of the rugged individualist assuming the blame for his or her class fuckupery is attractive but false. Lots of other people end up paying for the waste of a good college that you represent.

On moving-in day we offer the following advice to new and returning students.
Your professor’s awareness that you and others in the room are ignoring everything she attempts to offer is galling, upsetting, distracting. When she calls on you, your eyes have a soft heavy something that tells her you’ve been sucking an online nipple. She finds the pathos of this depressing, and it’s beginning to affect her teaching.
When we call our students out for paying more attention to their electronic shackles than to the course, it's business, not personal.

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