As a high school teacher I have seen a lot of bizarre things in my life. I watched a kid tie a human hair around the neck of a house fly in study hall, creating a leash to tether the insect as it flew around in circles. A few years later I looked up from taking attendance to see one student pummeling another student in the face during an Earth Science lab, blood gushing out of the victim’s nose, running down his face and shirt. On the other hand I have seen teams of students win national awards for outstanding projects and others who have grown up to become celebrities. But none of these experiences could have prepared me for how to deal with cell phones in my classroom.
Nowadays I see kids with cell phones, smart phones and handheld computers, able to verify lecture notes, real-time, online, or take pictures of exams and send their buddies in a few seconds, or communicate during quizzes. In the eyes of some, cell phones pose a threat worse than bad cafeteria food.
Cell phones have become a major issue of debate in many schools. They are as ubiquitous as students, who have learned to keep them hidden when they are outlawed in class. An alert teacher who sees the hands slip into backpacks or into the lap under the desk, or in the desk, knows what’s going on. But why should distracted students be anything new? Many years ago my faculty advisor at Colorado State did research and found that at any given time during a class, high school kids were more likely to be thinking about cars, sex, food, or the weekend than they were to be focused on the teacher lectures!
My solution? Ban teacher lectures! With no lectures there would be less activity to distract students away from their phones!
Frankly speaking, smart phones have given kids the opportunity to easily record images and even video surreptitiously, for better or worse, harass and bully other students, and also have a conversation with someone on the other side of the world, quickly check online resources, satellite, C-SPAN, weather and other data, and collaborate with others, and, let’s not forget, be in touch with Mom, all during class. In our faculty debates about cell phones, many educators see them as educational aids, not necessarily deterrents. The anti-phone crowd sees them as nothing more than a nuisance and distraction from real learning. The idealistic pro-phone crowd sees them as potentially useful learning tools. What do you think is the answer to students having cell phones in class?
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