At the beginning of every semester, both professors and students are faced with a new set of challenges. Students are navigating new classes, and professors have new students and class material to deal with. Both professors and students have sets of problems they have to mutually deal with that should be faced with a sense of realism.
Not every student wants to be in class, and it doesn’t matter to students that they are paying for classes, nor does the prestige or opportunity really matter. Students don’t like doing work and definitely don’t study the two hours for each hour of class that they are supposed to. Students have to balance their time and, generally, classes aren’t always their first priority. That doesn’t mea there aren't any students who don’t like going to class or prioritize it over other things; after all, we are here to get a degree. However, students need a certain degree of motivation or interest to truly pay attention and be engaged in class.
Conversely, professors should be looked at in a similar perspective. Teaching is a difficult job, and it is hard to entertain a room full of students for classes that can be as long as three hours. Professors, from my experience, are extremely passionate about what they are teaching and rightfully so. If you, as a student, taught a class and constantly saw students distracted with side chatter, their phones or even sleeping in class, it's certain you would be irritated.
However, professors should also understand that not every student in their class is interested in the material. While many professors get that to some extent, others don’t seem to understand this. An absurdly large portion of the classes students take don’t even pertain to our majors and future careers paths. This is an entirely separate debate itself; however, it still plays an important factor in a student’s decision to pay attention in class. Unless you are a student who has the ability to instantly apply information from various subjects to your direct field of study or other interests, then it is preposterous to think that you see much benefit in paying attention in class.
Continuing on that thought, plenty of students aren’t able to pay attention for a full class period. The instant gratification that technology gives us plays a major factor in this. Many students are constantly distracted and with our constant technological crutch and have extremely low attention spans. Students that are constantly on their phones are within an information cycle, which is extremely hard to get out of, especially if they find class less engaging in their phones.
In classes, this is not particularly the professors' or students’ fault. Professors dictate if phone use is okay in class. Professors who are OK with phone use in class are aware of a student’s value of their time. However, they don’t understand that students should learn to value their time. Professors who aren’t okay with phone use in class have the opposite problem, typically that students don’t care to participate because the classroom environment isn’t conducive to learning.
If there is a class where phones are not allowed, but laptops are allowed, a professor should understand that a student is doing the same things on their laptops as they are doing on their phones. This debate is fairly nuanced, but maybe the goal for professors in class is to keep students engaged with the material, so they don’t want to be checking Instagram every three minutes.
The key goal of post-secondary education is to give students the knowledge to succeed in their future career plans and to give students degrees that work as requirements to get a job. It is up to the individual — the student — to make the best use of their class time. If you are enrolled in college or teach college classes, please be aware that each person is putting in their effort, time or money to be here and be somewhat respectful of that.