Thursday, August 20, 2009

Cell Phones in Schools

Dave Sherman responded to my last post and asked my opinion. Rather than try to summarize it in a comment, I am devoting this post to it.

As Dave said in his comment, this issue is not going to go away. Cell phones are a part of our culture. Ten years ago, it was easy enough to say, "No cell phones for teachers." Try that today and see what happens. Schools spend inordinate amounts of time with policies to try and ban cell phones. Kids always find ways to get around them. Kids go the restroom and cell phones come out, as just on example.

I think the key is not banning the cell phones, but eliminating the interruptions that they can provide.(That would not be a bad idea for adults, either.) As Vicki said in her article, inappropriate use of a cell phone places it in "detention" for a week. To me, that seems a consequence that is reasonable, rational, and is not going to cause headache and heartache for the teacher.

The big picture to me, however, is not the distraction. It's the opportunity either seized upon or lost to teach kids how to use a common tool in a productive way. That's why I thinking reading Vicki's article is a must. It sheds a whole new light on what is possible for kids now. We are trying to teach them how to function in the 21st century, and we are going to have to use 21st century tools to do it.

As a next step, I am not saying everyone should allow students to use cell phones anytime, anywhere, or however they like. What I am saying is that as a next step, read Vicki's article. In light of her thoughts and the thoughts of others like her, begin the discussion of what is going to best help our students to be productive in the 21st century. Right now, it looks like using cell phones as a productivity tool is a pretty good component.
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