This year, my childrens’ school has loosened the restrictions and now allow students to use their cell phones between periods. Even papers are starting to recognize the change.
My first reaction to this was shock and awe. I’m softening a bit on my stance, and I think even changing my mind; so here are the thoughts I have as I’m thinking through this.
1. Cell phones are now a part of reality. They’re everywhere. I’ve been amazed at how families living in poverty have found a way to get cell phones to their kids. Simply ignoring them and pretending they don’t exist is not a progressive way to handle something new.
2. My life is on my cell phone. I don’t simply mean my schedule or contacts. I take notes on my phone. I access my finances on my phone. I read books on my phone, I even do research on my phone. When I enter into any environment that asks me to turn the thing off, my body shakes violently as I try to deal with the change. My phone has been grafted into my life.
3. New technology offers new methods of instruction. The goal should not be to turn the phone off, but to use it to teach in new ways.
4. Students are prone to misuse cellphones just like they are everything else. They text inappropriately, take pictures of unacceptable things, and use poor manners while talking. But those reasons alone tell us instruction is needed for proper use rather than confiscation.
I was once adamantly opposed to cell phones in school. The more I think about it, however, the more I realize that society and technology is quickly making the educational environment obsolete. Schools should aggressively oppose falling further behind the times.