(De)Evolving Standards of Media


IMs have been buzzing about the proposal to ban wireless internet in class. This worries me. Like most law students, I am acutely aware of the important pedagogical opportunities created by internet access. Can’t we all think of a dozen examples off the top of our heads? Like that time the professor mentioned a legal scholar you hadn’t heard of and so you Googled him, only to discover that there’s a minor actor of the same name who just happened to have been in that E.R. episode you saw once. And then there was that time you weren’t even going to go to environmental law, but then you realized it was the perfect hour and a half block in which to e-file your tax return, so you went, and as a result you probably got your taxes done months earlier than you would have otherwise, and you used part of your refund to buy the Examples and Explanation: Environmental Law book, which you totally credit your B+ too.

Sure, there are probably ways you can use the Internet to “distract” you when you might otherwise be “paying attention.” But that’s hardly the Internet’s fault. Why should it be punished? More importantly, however, what isn’t a distraction? Imagine what Record articles of the future might look like. Alright, we all know what the next one will be: “Harvard Law School bans laptop computers.” But what about after that?

March 28th, 2012 – Law School Bans Pen and Paper.

Harvard Law School made national news yesterday by banning pen and paper in classrooms.

“We were concerned that students were doodling instead of paying attention,” said Dean [Unlikely-and-Therefore-Comedic-Future-Dean]. “Some were even attempting to beat themselves at tic-tac-toe.” The Dean defended the decision, saying pen and paper were not necessary for classroom learning. “Students don’t need to take down a verbatim transcript,” she/he/it argued, “They simply need to engage themselves with the material.”

The ban gained popularity among law school faculty earlier this year, after a rash of classroom note passing. These notes, scribbled on folded pieces of paper, all followed the same form and read “Do you like me? Check yes, no, or maybe.” Three small boxes followed the text. At press time, it was unknown whether any were checked off.

March 28th, 2018 – Law School Bans Slate and Chalk.

The renowned Harvard Law School announced Wednesday that pieces of slate and chalk would no longer be allowed in law school classrooms. Students had been taking notes with slate and chalk ever since the infamous paper ban six years earlier. However the policy, while at first successful, proved to have some unexpected consequences.

“While we noticed a 78% decrease in doodling after the paper ban,” said a member of the Slate Committee who prefers to remain anonymous, “the remaining 22% was hurting everyone’s ears with that awful incessant screeching noise – it’s so bad, it’s hard to describe, really. Like fingernails on a chalk board.”

Campus officials reported that the paper ban had other unexpected side effects as well, including a marked increase in pigtails dipped in inkwells. In one highly publicized incident last year, 2L Anne Shirley disrupted her Law and Literature class by breaking her slate over 3L Gilbert Blythe’s head. Witnesses report that he had referred to her as “Carrothead.”

Even the harshest critics of slates admitted that they had one advantage over traditional means of note-taking: one slate and two pieces of chalk could be purchased with a student’s shiny Christmas penny.

March 28th, 2025 – Law School Bans Stone Slabs, Bones.

Harvard Law School banned stone slabs and shards of bone today when it became apparent that, instead of scratching relevant notes as originally intended, students were creating primal images of wooly mammoths.

“It’s true,” said 1L Ayla Smith, “I spent all of Torts last week drawing a saber-toothed tiger. I’m thinking of donating it to the Public Interest Auction.”

But the final straw for many Harvard faculty came last week when several 3Ls suddenly stopped paying attention during Prof. Jones’ Law and Music class, stacked their stone slabs in the center of the room, and began tossing their bones in their air while gyrating wildly.

“Clearly this situations has become intolerable,” said Prof. Jones, “If my students are so highly evolved they don’t need to pay attention in class, they’re highly evolved enough to take notes in their head.”

Harvard Law School banned the theory of evolution six years ago, after an unpleasant incident with a bolt of lightening and some amino acids.

Katie Mapes, 1L, definitely did not write this column on her laptop during class. She may, however, have spent Crim inscribing it into a stone tablet.

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