This week, our class was tasked with building wooden boxes in which students will deposit cell phones upon arriving at school. We can have our phones back at lunch and again at the end of the day. It’s a commonsense solution to the problem of cell phones in the classroom; nonetheless, constructing the boxes was akin to cutting a switch from a tree for our own lashing.
It’s not just the students in the building curriculum who are guilty of texting and Snapchatting during class. We had to make boxes for several other programs on campus. I hear nursing students like social media, too.
The cell phone box project prompted our instructor to remind the class that he’s not here for him, he’s here for us. He said he hoped students would make the most of their opportunity. He suggested we all ask ourselves why we’re at school in the first place.
I know why some of my classmates are there. One wants to learn to run a family business better. Another, to build a house off the grid. One wants to become an interior designer. Yet another—a recent arrival in this country—comes simply to learn the English vocabulary for the industry he already knows.
As for me, I want to learn something new; to pursue a long-held curiosity about the built environment; to indulge a passion for making stuff with my hands. In one audacious dream, I’d like to build spaces that inspire people’s creativity, including my own.
That’s why I’m working my ass off.
My first time in college—almost three decades ago—I lacked that focus. I skipped a lot of classes. I took Geology 101: Rocks for Jocks. I fell asleep when the lights dimmed in art history.
Regrets, I’ve had a few…But then again, I was 18. I can only imagine how distracted I might have been if there had been a cell phone in the mix.
So, to that European Lit professor to whom I acted as if I were doing a favor to read his Flaubert assignments, I am sorry for my bad behavior. Please know that I have the best intentions to send you an email apologizing for my slack collegiate attitude and thanking you for your forbearance. But I can’t. My cell phone is in the box.