My knees buckled as 6’3’’ linebacker Jeremy stood up and towered over my petite 5’3.”
“Jeremy, hand it over. You know the rules,” I said.
Dead silence immediately fell upon the 32 sophomores in my public high school classroom in Silicon Valley: the birthplace of technology. Still, I placed my palm up, and — after what seemed an eternity — he handed me his cellphone.
Is this battle in the classroom even worth it? Shouldn’t cellphones simply be banned from all schools? Districts across the U.S. have different policies: from direct confiscation to cellphone “parking lots” during the day, to open use in the classroom.
If X can do it, why can’t Y? Discipline ends up being difficult to enforce, and classroom management issues detract time from learning.
Parents, of course, have a say in the policy, because their primary concern is direct communication with their children, especially in case of emergency. Recent tragic incidences of violence in schools have certainly caused many valid concerns. Parents also need to inform their children of change in family programs, for example, who will pick them up, what time, etc.
Technology is also useful as an educational resource tool for research in the classroom. It can provide scaffolding for students struggling with conceptualization, as graphic designs and audio-visual materials enhance comprehension. Even background music can help students concentrate better.
On the other hand, the amount of distraction multiplies as the temptation to check the screen lies within reach. The quality of work diminishes as multitasking increases.
If cellphones are nowhere in sight, perhaps certain curiosities could be curbed (What’s the weather at lunchtime?). Moreover, aren’t we missing opportunities to hone social skills if students trust a device more than a classmate or teacher?
What’s your take?