Over the past two semesters, several of my professors have outlawed technology in the classroom because it’s too distracting. I support their crusade.
They are correct: technology is insanely distracting. If my computer is open in front of me, there’s no way I’m paying atten— I mean, of course, I’m paying attention no matter what, but I’m sure computers make it really hard for other people to pay attention.
However, these professors don’t quite seem to understand that we will always be distracted in class. Even if the material is extremely interesting, humans were designed to be hunters and/or gatherers, not sitting-at-deskers.
If you think outlawing technology is going to stop me from ignoring a lesson, you are gravely mistaken. I will try to calculate the thirtieth element of the Fibonacci sequence, make escape plans in case of a fire or rank my favorite people in my seminar before I pay attention for an entire hour and fifteen minutes. If you claim otherwise, you’re lying to us and to yourself. Mom and Dad, if you’re reading, I know for a fact that you’ve responded to my texts and calls during meetings at work, so don’t come after me.
I can tell you’re wondering, “Andrew, if you think we’re going to be distracted regardless, why outlaw screens in schools? They’re so cool and fun and at least you can be productive while you’re not paying attention.”
I admit, the appeal of scrolling through Twitter, LinkedIn, ESPN or whatever your drug of choice may be, is strong. But we already do that for a more-than-reasonable number of hours per day. What happened to the Big Three that is pen, paper and the power of your imagination?
That’s right, I’m a staunch believer in the power of a good, ole fashioned doodle.
I made some of my best friends at Yale when they peered over to copy my Econ 115 notes but instead found doodled superheroes — Abstracto, the Mobster Lobster and Lanky Man, to name a few.
If my political philosophy professor has the nerve to mention Marxism, how could I not doodle mock-ups for propagandist images of some rhyming alternative theories like a nature-lover’s Parxism, the ocean’s law of Sharxism and Joe Biden’s very own Malarxism?
While these might be like the most pointless graphite scratches to ever cross college-ruled paper — who knows about wide-ruled, though — I believe they still possess a shocking amount of value. So much of our energy at this school is devoted to productivity. We write coherent papers and spend hours staring at difficult psets.
Creativity — not for publication or posting on Instagram or building a portfolio — but merely for the sake of creativity, is a joy. We all can look back to our childhood and fondly remember our made-up language or the crippling fear of the ground in “the floor is lava” or scoring the game-winning points of a championship game when we were only playing with our siblings in an empty park. For me, doodles are a way to preserve the joy of those imagined worlds.
In a tragic twist of fate for such a passionate “creative spirit” like myself, I possess no artistic ability. Zero. Not even a little.
Half of my drawings of humans are identical and oddly lanky depictions. The other half are stick figures. With regard to faces, they get a smiley or frowny face, two dots for eyes and a semi-bowlcut that resembles my own hair. For reasons I don’t have enough time to explain, dachshunds feature prominently and are perhaps my most accurately drawn creations.
Some days, I stray from “realism” and lean into my abstract side. I draw lots of hearts regardless of whether or not I’m feeling smitten at a particular moment. I still haven’t quite figured out how to make a circle look good, but I’ll get there eventually. The margins of my notes always hold lots of cubes, irregular polygons and random squiggles.
A third-grader would be embarrassed by the quality of any of these drawings. To some degree, I am as well. But they’re not for you to look at. They’re not even for me to look at. I make them for the process of creation. So thank you professors for taking a stand. A “Just Brew It” Nike mug design, a few stray dinosaurs, HillBilly Clinton and I support you.