When lectures drag on, don’t be ashamed to multitask
Lectures and I don’t get on too well. The ultimate student shame might be the solution
I am seated slightly to the left of the middle of the lecture hall. I’m being talked at about liberal hegemony and wondering whether realistically this time could have been better spent in line for an Arc Cafe panini. So, instead, hello! I’m writing to you.
I’ll admit it: a good third of my time spent in lectures is indeed spent… not on lectures. What do I do instead? Anything! I’ll Crushbridge my way through the anthropology of horses (yes, a real thing – don’t ask) and I Camfess that a good proportion of what you’ve read from me so far on the Tab has been the product of international relations lectures.
And I’m not ashamed of it.
An hour is a pretty chunky length of time to focus on one activity, especially when that activity is remarkably passive – listening to some guy who knows a lot speak at you, waiting for the next slide so you can copy down the notes from there.
On days where I have multiple lectures, a diversion onto Twitter is a genuine way to sustain momentum, letting you ultimately focus for longer and actually get anything out of the last lecture of the day. If anything, it at least keeps your brain active enough to be able to survive through to that last lecture. No more slipping away to get a coffee and just… not coming back!
Attendance, in general, is a difficult thing to sustain, and allowing yourself to briefly drift away helps to motivate you to actually turn up in the first place, especially to topics you don’t particularly like. A strictly anonymous Tab writer has admitted that “last year I had a lecture course I really didn’t like, so I used to play Minecraft during it and pretended it was a podcast about ancient Greek art.”
Personally, I’m just proud of him for watching it in the first place. Besides, Minecraft is basically art when you do it right, right?
Sometimes, lectures just aren’t that useful. Maybe you already wrote your supo essay on the topic or maybe it’s a topic that you could have learnt in a five-minute scan of Wikipedia (which you’ve just done, leaving you to do nothing but sit there for another 40 minutes).
Rather than resent your hour wasted, why not use it on something at least vaguely useful? There are reams of tasks the average student has that only require half-brain power. Replying to emails or buying a pair of trainers can be perfectly balanced with half-listening to your lecturer, and that means you don’t have to do it later in the day.
Despite all this, I still find myself turning down my laptop screen brightness before opening Facebook in case the person behind me is staring down at my screen with contempt for my inability to focus for more than ten minutes at a time.
But we shouldn’t be ashamed of it! We pay to see lectures, and if we can get our money’s worth and order some lateral flows at the same time, we should be proud of that.
Feature image credits: Aga Sielska [edited by Ruby Cline]