Monday, May 12, 2008

Cell Phones Don't Belong in High Schools

Through Twitter, I found out about this post from Steve Dembo, commenting on David Pogue's post about cell phone use in schools. Always happy to oblige, I gave my thoughts on how I don't agree at all that cell phones should be used in educational settings. I was honestly surprised, by reading the comments, at how in the minority I appeared to be. I know that I'm not the only one who doesn't believe that they should be used as an educational tool. I'm not going to go in depth on college because that's not my current area (although most of the same feelings extend to post K-12). Regardless, I thought what a great time to get my thoughts down.
  1. I could care less whether or not a student has a cell phone on them in class. I carried mine when I taught, but I don't use it. Talking on it during class I definitely don't agree with. Not crazy about texting, especially when it becomes a distraction.
  2. Maybe it's the area that I live in or the district that I work in, but our students do not have phones that take the place of a computer. Don't tell me I don't know, because I've been there. I've seen the kids' phones. Some kids have phones that could be used as educational tools, and that's fine, but in no way, shape, or form should students do a project that requires a cell phone. If it's an activity in your curriculum, all students should be able to partake. Educators are charged with readying our students for the world. Does text messaging show up on the "special skills" section? So why not use a computer then?
  3. Computers are a better investment because they have more legitimate uses, are easily available to multiple students in a building and have more resources already available to teachers. Our district needs to find more ways to enhance or lessons through technology and there are a million more resources and examples of computer uses than cell phone uses.
  4. There are multiple finance issues that, while Steve tried to calm my fears, I still don't agree with.
Other issues that I have are available through Steve's website, as well as links to other posts. I'd love to hear your comments as well, even if you don't agree with me.


I had heard of this story, but hadn't heard that the judge agreed with the ban.
This quote doesn't help a parent's cause:
The parents groups, however, have been arguing that the all-out ban goes too far, making it impossible for them to reach their children in times of major emergencies.
Doesn't the school have a phone??? I understand the stalking and bullying aspect, but they added provisions for medical, so there are some loopholes. Also, nice to see some of the comments are more supportive of my position.


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great post

Mr. Keller said...

I think our schools will need to figure this out soon. We cannot ban cell phones. This makes us akin to Communist China's policy of filtering the internet. I say let it happen in the hallways, but teach cell phone etiquette in the classroom. Please turn the phones off or to silent. If the phone continues to be a distraction, then take the phone as outlined in school policy. Let's not let a few bad apples spoil the whole bunch. In the end, a reasonable cell phone policy should help us outside the school by teaching good cell phone etiquette.

Steve said...

You had to know I wouldn't be able to resist commenting! Totally respect your opinion, AND obviously what's right for one classroom may not be right for another. BUT, even so...

Point 1) I'm not referring to kids talking on the cell phone, or necessarily texting friends. It can also be used as an educational tool, much in the same way a calculator can. That's how disruptive it should be, same as a calculator.

Point 2) You might be surprised what can be done with an ordinary average cell phone. If it can send and receive text messages, then it has access to all the glory of Google. Or even wikipedia. If it has a browser on it, then all sorts of interesting opportunities open up, even if its a teeny tiny, WAP only browser.

Point 3)Totally agree. Schools should NOT be investing in cell phones. But... parents already have. And so long as the PARENTS have invested in them, I think schools should go ahead and leverage that investment. If we had parents who wanted to buy their kids a fancier calculator that could also browse the internet, would we be so quick to ban it?

Anyway, regardless, I think there needs to be quite a bit more discussion from both sides of the fence before the pendulum can possibly start swinging back the other way, so glad to continue the discussion with you!


J Allen said...

As usual, great points. And I do apologize for the "talking during class" argument that you AREN'T making. I think I misspoke in my comment on your page as well.