In his column, “Teaching Laziness,” Leland Stange ’19 calls for reduced use of technology in the classroom. “Technology,” he writes, is “more than an intermediary for us”; it has become “an all-consuming, necessary baby blanket” that distracts from the “real” learning that might otherwise take place in the classroom. His complaint has some merit: Social media can be distracting in the classroom. However, Stange’s critique ignores the ways in which technology has opened “traditional classrooms” to students with disabilities.
I am one such student. Since elementary school, I have used a laptop to compensate for the cerebral palsy that renders my handwriting illegible. My laptop is no “baby blanket”; it is a tool I need to succeed academically. To exclude technology from the classroom is thus to exclude me as well. No amount of nostalgia or concern for professors’ autonomy can justify that.
That said, I am sure Stange would allow laptops, iPads and dictation software into his classroom as “accommodations.” However, accommodation alone does not guarantee inclusion. On the contrary, a student who needs technological accommodation will be highly visible in a technology-free classroom and may draw resentment from classmates denied similar “advantages.” At the very least, this student will face constant reminders that the classroom was not designed for her, that she literally does not fit its mold. So let’s join Stange in “[thinking] carefully about how technology relates back to our humanity” — beginning with the ways it affirms the humanity of people with disabilities.
Jacob Bennett LAW ’19