I mean it. Please don’t. Just don’t.
You’re not encouraging me to engage with your talk; you’re not making your class more fun or easier for me.
I need to take notes, preferably by hand. These days that means with a tablet and stylus. I use a tablet and keyboard when I forget and bring the bad stylus and in meetings. And in some situations, I post notes on Twitter.
When you tell me not to do any or all of those things, you’re actually alienating me. You’re making me feel unwelcome. And you’re stressing me out.
(And if any part of your talk has to do with reaching all learners – you’ve lost me already)
Don’t misunderstand. I’m not saying that everyone should take notes. I’m not saying that anyone but me should take notes. I’m not going to project my preferences and my learning habits on to you — I’m just asking that you don’t project yours on to me.
Here’s a secret. My brain is a super busy place. Not always a productive or focused place. Seriously, say one interesting thing and I am off to the races. It doesn’t even have to be interesting, really. Even something that just reminds me of something that’s interesting will do.
(Okay, that probably isn’t much of a secret)
And I’m not complaining about this. I spend a lot of time in my brain and most of the time, I like it there. I like to think. I get excited by ideas and connections. I get an almost visceral thrill when thoughts snap into place.
And don’t take this the wrong way, but there’s almost nothing you can do, no amount of humor or engaging activities you can build in, that will be more fun or compelling to me than thinking about what you say. The more awesome you are? The more I want to play with your ideas.
Taking notes is how I stay grounded in your thoughts. Taking notes is how I stay present. Taking notes keeps me from chasing my thoughts down those intellectual rabbit holes right now – I wrote a note, I drew a star and a circle and an arrow to the other thing, I can relax now and go back to it later.
And I know you’ve given me a handout or put up a website with all your references on it. I really appreciate it – I do! I do this too. Who wants to be scrambling to write down sources and links? I don’t, but I’m going to write down the why, and draw the circles and the arrows to show how they fit in and work for me.
(And if I ever gave you the impression I didn’t want you to take notes when I pointed out the URL for one of those resource lists – I’m sorry. That’s not what I meant!)
If it makes you feel better, I even take notes when I’m alone. I couldn’t start reading on my tablet until I figured out a note taking workflow.
For marginalia and highlighting, that’s PDF + stylus + Notability, if you’re interested. But there’s also my Evernote moleskine, which I use to create my holding pen notes — a writing trick I learned from Vicki Tolar Burton that I also use now for reading.
The holding pen is basically a place to put all of those questions and thoughts I don’t want to lose, but which will keep me from reading to the end of the article (or writing this paragraph or section) in the time I have if I don’t put them somewhere —
This might explain that theme we pulled out of the interviews, but I can’t remember exactly what she said. Argh, didn’t that Juarez paper I read last year dealt with this trait. Hey, Laurie’d be interested in this to help turn that one project into a paper idea. Oh, maybe that term will work better in PsycINFO. OMG that’s a good example to use in class. Wait, no, I don’t think that’s what she was really arguing in that book. Ooh, that methodology might work for me with the other study.
Basically, I’ve been doing this a long time – learning in classes, in workshops, from books and texts, in lectures and presentations. I’ve had decades at this point to figure out how to make learning work for me, and while there’s always more to learn, I need you to trust me that I know what I’m doing, and to remember that for some of us, engagement looks a little different.