Disengaged learning

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With all the advantages to education at UVU, it seems like a lot of students aren’t paying attention

Nicola Pritchett | Production Manager | @xnicolajudith

 On Tuesday morning I showed up to class with a dead laptop. Robbed of my screen, I pulled a barely-used notebook from my backpack and sat down with a ballpoint in hand—how different a notebook is from a laptop or a tablet or a smartphone.

A notebook is a collection of empty pages. There are no goofy photos or inane Buzzfeed lists to fill your brain. Instead, you are the one to supply the content; you are the producer.

Suddenly I was forced to be more engaged. I could doodle, sure, but I didn’t have any information to ingest but that information supplied by my professor and my classmates.

So I did ingest. I listened and I commented and I learned. And I quickly realized that in doing so I had stepped out of the norm.

Every time I expressed an opinion blank faces swiveled towards me. My teacher asked what we were working on for our next project and not a single person could be bothered to answer.

I looked across the classroom at my classmates, slouched low in their seats, staring at the walls or their various glowing screens. It made me wonder why I was the strange one for asking and answering questions in a learning environment. Why did my classmates even bother to be there?

The class was a specialty photo class. No one was there to fulfill a general education requirement that covered a topic outside of their area of study. These students, my classmates, were photography—or at the very least some form of visual art—majors who couldn’t bother to be engaged in a single lecture on the topic of their study.

There was a prevailing attitude that they didn’t need the class; that they had nothing to learn from my professor. He’s no bumbling, ill-informed old windbag; he is an incredibly talented documentary photographer with years and years of first-hand experience. He has a stunning portfolio of black and white Rolleiflex portraits and street photos from all over the world. He has things to teach us, but he can’t do it when we don’t listen.

It’s not just bored art majors who are missing out on an education. How is it that the UVU Review is so often short on talented, dedicated writers when there are over one hundred students at this school that claim to be journalism majors and intend to enter journalistic fields?

Jim Fisher, a journalism professor here, tells his students that when he worked for The Tribune, he would throw out any application from a journalist that hadn’t worked for his college paper.

So Art majors, Journalism majors, students of every major offered at this university, what are you doing? Why are you here if you don’t care? If you can’t be bothered to want to learn and gain experience? Why are you flooding the job market with meaningless diplomas and lackluster resumes?

As students we must engage. It’s not just a meaningless school tagline. It’s a necessary lifestyle for a meaningful education and a meaningful life. Apathy will kill us if we let it and we are letting it.