WTF? Smartphone bans in schools? SMH
I live within my cell phone. Everything I need is in it. Most adults in this day and age would agree with this. Many baby - boomers are known to be participants in the era of the smart phones. So, too, and perhaps even more so, are the adolescents of this time. I would argue that they are even more dialed in with the technologies of the present, and wait with bated breath for the latest, hottest release from the major mobile phone manufacturers. Since this is the case, wouldn't it behoove our school system to tap into this phenomena and use it to its advantage? Apparently, for the large part, it hasn't dawned on them to do so yet.
My daughter began high school this year. For her, this is when school really starts to count. Homework gets harder, projects need to be more detailed, and the curriculum becomes more sophisticated and is designed to prepare our children for real life. At home, we start to give more freedom to our child, as long as she does not take advantage of this increased level of trust. She is permitted to have a facebook page, a twitter, and her face is constantly buried in her phone more so than a textbook. Still, if she gets good grades, she can keep these extra "toys" that keep her happy. As adults, we, too, get to have our fun with devices, provided we pay for them and maintain them. If we don't pay for our car or our house, they get removed from our possession. One of the many major lessons learned from adolescence is that of obtaining items that you may want, through hard work and responsibility, but, if you're not responsible, you will lose them. Young adults need to experience these lessons in both home and school life.
We need to harness the power cell phones have over our youth.
Draconian cell phone policies of schools
"Do you love your cell phone? Then keep it turned off and put it away so that it doesn't get confiscated!" This is the message at the bottom of the website of a High School's cell phone policy. This is not an uncommon tactic used in schools to thwart student's usage of mobile devices. Even the very appearance of phones in some schools, even during bus rides to and from school, is disallowed. I went onto the website of several schools, spanning the scholastic stratosphere. There was a very common theme: your phone is our enemy. Nothing good can come from its inclusion in a child's learning experience.
I went onto the website of my own daughter's school just to compare it to the other policies. I was not surprised by my findings. "...All electronic devices must be concealed. The Board prohibits use of electronic devices by students during the school day in district buildings, on district property, on district buses and vehicles; during time students are under the supervision of the district and in locker rooms, bathrooms... electronic devices may be confiscated by an administrator for any length of time and returned to a parent during regular school hours..."
Really? So my daughter can't listen to Miley, Hunter Hayes, Trey Songs or Chris Brown on the bus coming from or going to school? And, if she does, that device can confiscated for an indefinite amount of time until returned to myself or my wife during "regular school hours"? I agree that my child should be punished for having such poor taste in music, but, let me take care of that. What the school board decries is that, if our daughter violates this policy, one of her parents would have to leave work early just to retrieve property that is ours, that we purchased with our money, and have granted permission to our child for her to have for recreational use during times, such as, I don't know, a bus ride?
Let's examine some of these policies further. Another theme is the "recommendation" that each child, if they do bring their cell phones, should keep it off. Not silent, or on vibrate, but off. Being able to contact my child whenever a possible emergency occurs is one of, if not the reason we mulled it over and decided to fork over the funds to procure a cell phone for our child and allowed them to have it on their person at all times, especially when they are not at home. Some schools don't simply "recommend" having the cell phone off, they demand that each child place their phone in their locker at the start of their school day. However, they go on to note the disclaimer that the school is not responsible for lost or stolen electronic devices. This same school dictates that students are not to turn on their cell phones until after 4 pm. Most high schools complete their academic day between 2-2:30, on average. However, a student cannot even "like" anything or make a tweet if they're still on school property until 4:01. The penalty for a first time offense to the above policy: a one-day out - of - school suspension. Subsequent violations can warrant a three-day suspension.
The Learning Curve on Mobile Device Usage
This article is not intended to expose and castigate schools across the nation that operate on a strict cell phone policy. I believe that the youth need to have some regulations regarding their device usage, just not on the level of the educational systems I've mentioned. I understand that, if a parent needs to get in touch with their child they can always call the school and ask to speak with them. Yes, that is a viable option. I believe parents have become so accustomed to being able to reach out directly to their child whenever they wish (and are paying monthly to take advantage of this opportunity). Somehow the image of Sloane Peterson and her dead grandma in Ferris Bueller's Day Off materializes in my head as I write this. Anyway, my point is that, if I provided my daughter with the phone I am paying for to be able to get in touch with her directly, then that is what I intend to do.
Some schools are getting it right. There are educational edifices that inhabit administrators attempting to embrace the new generation's addiction to their hand held world. Teachers proclaim search engines as the new standard for one to obtain information, rather than dismissing their mere existence. Together, students and their instructors utilize these gadgets in fun ways that enable our children to learn the lesson. Some teachers use "text quizzes" where two groups huddle around one member of the team's cell phone. The teacher will either announce a question, or text it to both teams, and then each team must text back their answer. The winning team is the one with the first reply back to the teacher, of course.
There is a plethora of ideas educators could conjure up if the rules were more lax. Teachers could create facebook pages for their classes, and each day send out the homework assignment. Then, if a student came in the next day and said, "you never told us about that homework," the instructor, and also other students, could instantly display the post indicating what the assignment was. Students could utilize the tools in their smart phones more, too. When a new project is announced, instantly each student could retrieve their cell (once the teacher instructs them to do so) and place that in their calendar. Students could use the note pad on their phones to jot down vital info that they don't want to forget, or even record paramount details to an assignment or project that their academic guide seeks them to remember. Schools with more lenient cell phone policies report less instances of phone confiscation due to their use for purposes other than the examples I mention above. We all know that telling your kid not to do something is an invitation to them to do just the opposite.
Rules are still very important in a child's life, especially a teenager. They have all these hormones racing around and constantly battling each other, and your child's body is the battlefield for this. Their moods swing faster than the duration of a "vine" video. Their usage of a cell phone must be monitored, on some level, while they are on an academic campus. The bulk of the monitoring of their usage needs to be with their parents at home. Utilizing an electronic device for anything other than learning, or outside the parameters a teacher sets, should not be tolerated while in class. Rather than snatching the item, we should be exploring any and all ideas to harness the power this device has over our children. If school's main objective is to prepare our youth for life after the bell rings, shouldn't we allow some of the outside world into the building so they can experience it the correct way? Shouldn't we show them how to use the tools, all tools that we, as adults, use every day for both pleasure and for business, that will help them become successful adults in the future?
But this is just IMHO. Ask your kid if you don't know what that means.