Joy Ransom teaches English at Boston University, and she is beginning to despair of ever fully gaining her student’s attention during classroom instruction. The reason, as she sees it, is technology.
“I have a rule that students must turn off their cell phones during class, and if they don’t and the class is interrupted by their cell phone ringing or sounding an alarm they have to read an extra 20 pages in whatever piece of literature we’re studying at the time. But in the end that’s counter-productive. I want my undergrads to read literature for the pleasure of it, not as punishment!”
At the beginning of each semester, she says, her students agree that they can forego the pleasure of looking at their phones for fifty minutes; but by the end of the semester most of them have broken down and have to check it every ten minutes.
“It’s an addiction” she laments. “And it’s impacting their education in a very serious manner. Can’t we invent some kind of technology to get rid of some of this technology?” she asks, only partly tongue in cheek.