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Independent University Newspaper

Copenhagen Business School

Why are you here?

|   28. Aug 2017

By Sara Gholami

How your ignorance can rub off on your classmates.

It is none of my concern if you wish to attend a lecture and then spend the entire 90 minutes catching up on your Facebook messages. However, watching someone in the row in front of me doing fun things on their laptop encourages me to do it too. I often find myself losing track because I had to just quickly check my messages or was instantly inspired to look for 3D flamingo phone cases on eBay. I pretty much also have the attention span of a fruit fly, so it doesn’t take much to distract me in the first place.

I think a lot of students feel the same way nowadays. Everything around us happens so fast and dedicating more than 2 minutes of full focus on something often seems impossible. We have gotten used to quick results, googling anything and everything and finding answers in just split-seconds. So, to be expected to concentrate for the duration of an entire lecture – and even take notes – is quite unlikely. Sometimes it makes me feel a little guilty knowing how many young people out there in less fortunate societies dream of getting an education, but money is usually the prime obstacle. Why are we not taking ours more seriously? Everything is handed to us and many of us, myself included, often take it for granted. Simply showing up for a lecture doesn’t equal gaining anything academically and it is quite frankly a little distracting for your fellow classmates too.

A key factor to consider is that neither attendance nor participation is mandatory here unlike in some countries. I am by no means an advocate of mandatory participation; however, I can see how it also has its benefits. During my exchange semester in Mexico I experienced what mandatory participation means, and while I hated it, I also saw how it could be helpful – especially in smaller sized class rooms. It created somewhat of a conversation between the students and the professor and people were not afraid to ask questions, as this was also considered as a contribution towards your final grade. This of course also limited the amount of time you could spend playing Candy Crush without getting noticed.

As mentioned above, participation is not mandatory and neither do we receive recognition or incentives for students who perform extraordinary well. Motivation is at an all-time low. Add to that the fear of saying something wrong in front of 100 of your peers and it’s understandable why very few students speak up. The fact I don’t understand is though, why show up when you already know your brain will be offline? Because the same results can be achieved from a horizontal position at home.

Personally, I feel that it helps clear my conscience if I show up for a lecture. That way I don’t feel guilty about missing any important information that might be shared. I am definitely not innocent when it comes to wasting time instead of taking notes, but over the years I feel like I am willing to try a little harder. I still catch myself not paying attention for longer than I would like to admit, but if my determination is at an ultimate low, even before entering the classroom, then there is no point in going. If I already know I’ll get nothing out of it I’d rather spend that time doing something more productive. Lastly, if I’m being completely honest, my main motive for going is simply the social aspect. If I go, I’ll see my friends and we’ll catch up during the break and possibly go for a coffee afterwards. Pages of notes written: zero. This will probably always be my prime motivation, – especially for those 8AM lectures – but as I am about to start my Master’s, I might need to pull myself together, even if it’s just a little.

All I’m saying is to think twice about what you wish to gain from attending a lecture and that catching up on this week’s Game of Thrones can wait until you get home. It’s a waste of your time, distracting for your class mates and quite frankly an unfair spoiler alert for the guy sitting behind you 😉

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