Little did Professor June Entman of the University of Memphis Law School realize that when she hit ‘send’ on that seemingly innocent email a few weeks ago, that she was unleashing a firestorm which would lead to a student revolt.
You see, that email to June Entman’s first year law students at the University of Memphis Law School told them that they could no longer bring laptops into the classroom.
Said Entman, “My main concern was they were focusing on trying to transcribe every word that was I saying, rather than thinking and analyzing.”
Of course, when I went to lawschool, we were encouraged to take notes so that we could, you know, study. And speaking as a law professor, I can state absolutely that there is no real difference between a student with head bent over a pad and paper, and a student with their fingers on a keyboard. Actually, if there is a difference, it is that students with laptops look up more often!
Of course, that’s assuming that the classroom is not wifi-enabled. Ours isn’t, and perhaps that is the problem. If Professor Entman is unable to capture the attention of her students, they may well be surfing MySpace instead, or perhaps even looking up a more compelling rendition of the subject matter on which Entman is lecturing.
Whatever the case, Entman’s students are not taking the ban lying down. They are circulating a petition at the school, and even tried lodging a complaint with the ABA (American Bar Association). The ABA dismissed the complaint, which I find a bit ironic, as the law students were simply taking the initiative to practice early what they are supposed to do once unleashed on society. If the ABA were really on the ball, they would have let the law students argue it to a conclusion, and then find against them.
In any event, if any of my law students are reading this, worry not – I won’t be banning laptops from the classroom any time soon.
Unless, of course, we get wifi.