In grad school, I was one of dozens of TAs for a 1,000-student freshman lecture course. One morning, as I sat parked amidst the undergrads—a move, it was explained, that maintained order throughout the otherwise-anarchic auditorium—I noticed the student in front of me had her laptop open but was not taking notes. “Pssst,” I hissed at her. “Stop effing around on Facebook and pay attention!” Except I didn’t say “effing.”

Years later, as a professor, I feel embarrassed by that interaction, and not just because I lost my cool and used the F-word to a U-grad. The laptop is now endemic in the modern classroom, with most students using them—purportedly—to take notes and access course materials. Of course, they’re also (often primarily) used to do anything but classwork: games, Snapchat, shopping—even porn. Thus many professors police the ways students use their laptops, and some are banning them outright. But what good does that do? The Laptop Police just seems like one more way of helicoptering students instead of letting them learn how to be students—indeed, how to be adults. [Read more] – Michael’s Blog