Students embrace their phones, neglect education

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It is a minute before class starts. The notebook is open and ready to receive knowledge. Peers chit-chat as the professor sets up the PowerPoint. The clock strikes 11 a.m. and a roll of hushed voices takes over the conversations. The professor stands in front demanding full attention, but with a cell phone next to students’ notebooks, is full attention possible?

In most classes, phones sit next to laptops, next to note pads, as if they are tethered to these note-taking avenues. In this age, in our generation, it has become a sort of discomfort to not have a cell phone within reach and grasping our attention.

In past semesters I would sit in the front row of  a class, but fully engaged in my phone. Fully engaged in scrolling through Facebook. Consumed with the repetition of double tap, scroll, double tap and scroll on Instagram. That was how I “learned.” I justified it with, “It’s better than being asleep like that guy in the back.” But honestly, it is not at all better.

What caused me to turn my phone on Airplane Mode in classes as I do this semester?

I have learned to value learning.

In our culture we are consumed with what is inspected, instead of what is expected. Our scholarships depend on our grades. Our parents ask for our grade point averages. But how often are we as students asked, “What did you learn today?”

We value our grades, not our education. In some classes you can be engaged on your phone the whole time and still get an A. I know I’ve done it. Sure, you’ll have two or maybe three nights during the semester where you’ll need to play catch up. But for the most part, it is easy to be disengaged and ignore your education.

This semester, the classes I am taking have benefits to ministry, to relationships, for healing, for understanding and for learning  about my God.

The benefits are so tangible. Coming out of class convicted from conversations is my most favorite thing about Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

I see now that it is my responsibility not as a student, but as an active learner to provide my full attention to the breadth of knowledge before me. And even though many professors do not vocalize their disappointment if our phones are on our desks, it shows the immaturity of our generation to ignore their outpourings of wisdom.

Maybe it is easier because I have found something I care about, and I crave to learn about it. The price we are paying to sit in a classroom to scroll on Pinterest or upload photos on Facebook is not worth it.

Do I occasionally look at my phone in class? Of course! I joke about having ADD at least once a week. Should you be chastised for taking a peep at your phone in class? No. Should you be on it constantly? No.

To me, it is not about the consequences of cellular devices, it is about not immersing yourself in your education. If you really care, you’ll put your phone away.

About Jessica Bills

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