Taking off for a two-day college orientation and overnight dorm visit:
Sleeping bag packed? Check.
Consent forms signed? Check.
Pen & paper packed? “That’s stupid. We don’t need them”. Really? How are you going to take notes? “Use our phones if we need to”. What if your battery runs down, or you break it, or … ? “That’s ridiculous, you worry too much”. Whatever! I’m tired of fighting every tiny common sense detail.
Six hours later at registration tent … “Can I borrow a pen to check off the sessions I’m going to attend?”, “Me too”. “Me three”. Really? All three of you traveled 360 miles to this special honors weekend and nobody brought a pen?#$%**??! I’m loving this I-told-you-so-moment. They are cringing. They didn’t want to keep them however. They made their marks and tossed them back across the table, as if they were infected with some very un-cool disease.
WHY is this happening? Why do young people think they ‘don’t need to take notes’? Why is it ‘stupid’? A light bulb went off for me in the last session of Day 1.
BECAUSE … Up to this point in their lives everything they have needed to know is available online. Course notes. Homework assignments. School schedules. Project collaboration. etc. Everything is spoon fed and electronically documented. Much of it even findable on Google. They don’t even need to remember where to look. Imagine that! It’s an amazing everything-at-your-digital-fingertips world.
Indeed, all the important, essential information we heard about during the entire two days was available somewhere online. Most presentations concluded with weblinks, emails, and social media connections. My copious notes looked so-last-century waste of time — i.e., ‘stupid’.
On the way home however (after their phone batteries had all died from Facebook and texting exhaustion), the locked up and closed case on pen & paper was reopened when the discussion turned to one professor who had promised the “Two Tips On How To Get The Most Out Of Your Undergraduate Experience”. He wandered all over the place and was not able to crisply deliver the two tips in such a way that they could pull it out of the air and fix it in their minds. They had no recall of the two tips. I dug out my notes and voila! It was neatly written out there for later retrieval. How did I do that? Practice. Practice. Practice during an age of necessity and no other options.
Why is note-taking important? If everything is available online, why cultivate a seemingly ancient skill. It’s a waste of time. Is note-taking falling by the wayside just like cursive writing? Is new technology rendering it irrelevant? I don’t believe so.
Note-taking is important BECAUSE … it helps the listener pay attention during the talk. It’s important, because it helps imprint what you are hearing for later retrieval. It’s important, because not everything you hear and need to retain is available on Google. Young adults entering the workforce will get messages delivered from bosses, assignments from project leaders, and verbal knowledge from experts, to mention a few, that will not ever appear in any electronically retrievable source.
Showing up a work without pen & paper is like ending “up a creek without a paddle”. My guess is they will have to learn it through the school of hard knocks. “Sucks for them” is what they might tell me, but they still don’t want the pen and paper today.