When I look around during my history lecture, I see that most students are typing notes on their laptops. Or at least they’re pretending to type notes. It’s guaranteed that at least someone will be watching a game of soccer, playing a video game, scrolling through Facebook, or working on a chemistry assignment.

These mindless distractions are usually funny to see. After all, these students are compromising their own academic success by not paying attention in lecture. However, distracted students are probably less funny to the professors, some of which have been teaching for years as experts in their fields. I can imagine that it is beyond frustrating to have students brush off their effort and experience so easily.

This is not to say that students don’t have a strong case when they say that they know best when it comes to their own learning. By the time we’re in university, we’ve gone through a dozen or more years of school. That’s enough time to learn and revise our own study habits. Learning is a highly personalized process, and while I prefer to take handwritten notes, another student might benefit from the efficiency of typing.

The laptop ban — re-introduced to U of T discourse through a 2016 opinion piece penned by two political science professors for The Globe and Mail — aimed to prohibit the use of electronic devices in lectures, tutorials, and seminars. This ban has mostly been discussed in the context of effectiveness and equity. In fact, if anyone wants an analysis of the research conducted on the effect of laptops in the classroom, The Varsity has already published a number of news and opinion pieces that outline the different arguments for and against the ban.

Personally, I do not believe that this debate is about the positive or negative effects of technology in the classroom. If that were the case, we would be arguing about whether U of T should ban the use of all technology in the classroom. Instead, I’m going to build a case for why individual professors should have the right to decide to ban technology in their classrooms.

While students consider a range of factors when choosing a university, many would probably agree that central to their decision is the quality of the program and the reputation of the school. Both of these rely in some part on the university’s ability to acquire adequate resources, which includes a teaching staff of experts, able to teach in a comprehensive manner. The University of Toronto provides its students with well-organized courses, thrilling opportunities, and libraries full of information.

One of the greatest advantages it has is that it hires reputable and thoughtful professors. That’s why students are encouraged to go to office hours and engage in department activities. The university encourages you to benefit from the experience and understanding of your teachers. In many cases, your professors have been teaching the same course for years. They understand the tools that are necessary to be successful in that class and in that program.

A professor in a computer science class probably won’t ban laptops, because they’re essential to learning. But an English professor might decide that the retention and analysis that is often required when writing handwritten notes is a good way to develop and practice necessary skills. In fact, this sentiment is echoed in the opinion piece that started this whole mess. The political science professors who wrote it wanted their students to focus on the lecture so they could learn how to analyze the complex texts and concepts they were faced with.

Many of us still ask for advice from our professors and teaching assistants. We trust that they have the expertise necessary to excel in our chosen profession. While it is good to understand your own learning habits, to pick and choose the advice we want from professors would be to potentially ignore something that could help us. After all, turning off your laptop for a few hours is a pretty low price to pay for a good mark.

Marta Anielska is a first-year Humanities student at University College.