Thursday, February 10, 2011

Banning Cells In School Would Inhibit Schools In Fulfilling Their Mission

My stomach turned yesterday morning as I heard a radio newscaster mentioning discussions in Boston by some of our lawmakers regarding a ban of cellphones in schools.  I decided that I would revise our school's mission statement to what it would need to be if this type of legislation were passed (see above).

 It is my opinion that we would not be able to teach our students to be fully responsible citizens if there is not a huge technological component integrated into our teaching.  Teaching students to use technological devices, including cellphones, responsibly is part of our what is entailed in teaching responsible citizenship in this day and age.  In fact, I would add (without any intended offense to parents) that if the school is not teaching responsible use of technological devices then the students will be missing this crucial portion of their education totally because things have changed so dramatically for parents since they were in school.  

Not to mention the fact that there are countless constructive uses for cellphones in school.  I have written about this topic in the past on a couple of occasions:

Mobile Technology - A Wealth of Possibilities (and some logistical problems)  - January 2009

Cellphone Learning - Not an Oxymoron - October 2009

Cellphones in the Classroom Are Adding Value - November 2009

If we are going to stop bullies, we need a better plan. Bullies were present in schools and in society well before the presence of cellphones.  While I understand that cellphones and technological gadgets allow a potential bully easier access to their victims, I do not believe that a mandate to turn off these devices in schools will change the behavior of students who intend to harass or bully. They will simply wait until after school hours.

We need to continue to create caring environments in our schools that make clear that tolerance of all students is at the top of our priority list.  We need to have this discussion with parents and talk about the expectations we have for the students in our schools and what we want them to be capable of when they exit our doors.

Taking away something from the majority for the actions of a minority is never the answer.


  1. I have the students use cellphones in my class to complement the lessons. In fact, we used them today in my Spanish class. We went to the kitchen to prepare some Spanish / Hispanic foods. I had the students take a picture with their cellphones so that they could send them to me, and in turn, I would forward them to Mr. Larkin.They had a great time cooking and preparing a small meal. I will put these pictures on my desktop. Tomorrow, one of my French classes will be using them to connect to the Internet to do some research for a project on which they're working. On a personal note, my daughter used her cellphone to text me to inform me that her school was being released early. I was very grateful that she was able to contact me at work.I, personally believe that they can be a great aid in the classroom when used in an educationally constructive means.

  2. I agree. I don't think that any type of benefit could come from banning cell phones in schools, especially for the reasons stated. Yes, I do feel that bullying should be addressed (and it has, since Massachusetts has passed a law deeming it a criminal offense). However, banning cell phones for everyone is not only unfair, but also illogical. I can't tell you how many times my parents have sent me a text during the school day to keep me posted on what's going on as far as my family's schedule for the rest of the day, and how many quick questions I have just asked people with my phone during the day. If bullying via cell phones is really a serious issue, then one has the ability to block the cell phone number anyway by contacting their phone service. I personally don't feel that bullying is any more prevalent today than 20 years ago, there's just different forms of it. Discouraging this type of technology in schools is ridiculous. Capeless and Coakley should be ashamed for even suggesting this. It's a horrible proposal and quite honestly is not a legitimate reason to ban cell phones for all students. Plus, each school is different. Clearly these lawmakers haven't spent any time inside a high school, otherwise this wouldn't have even been a suggestion- look's 2011. Good luck banning cell phones Truthfully, 99.9% of students in BHS are not bullies. So why should we have to deal with this?

  3. A modern smartphone can be a great learning tool. The problem is that only some students have them, others have ordinary cellphones, while others have none. Innovative schools are experimenting with cellphone use while others ban them. Banning technology won't make it go way and schools that do ban them will fall behind. If the number of smart phones in a class are limited, students can work in groups of two or three to use the phones to access resources outside of the classroom. I look forward to reports from schools that are leading the way on this front.

  4. I agree that cellphones and the internet are an important tool and that students at the high school level should be taught to use this technology respectfully. However, not all students are currently allowed to access the internet with their cellphones. My husband and I do not pay for the extra service of internet access on our daughter's cellphone because we do not want her abusing it. We prefer to monitor her online activity on her PC at home. How will this school resource activity affect those students who are not currently allowed internet access with their phones?

  5. I allow limited cell phone use in my classroom. With only one student computer with access to the internet sometimes students have to wait to use it so those that have smart phones can look up what they need to on their phone. They use their cameras to take pictures of their artwork and check their grades when they are uploaded. I like when I have to get information to a student quickly but its not the day I usually see them, I send them an email and most students get it while they are still in school.

  6. Banning cell phones in school is an almost impossible task, even if we were foolish enough to desire to do so.

    As an educator, I realize the importance of teaching students to use the tools of the future appropriately. When we send any activity underground,we lose the opportunity to teach responsibility. We lose the chance to model, to guide. It doesn't matter if it's a text message, chat room, FaceBook, paper-and-pencil note or malicious rumor - it's the lessons on how we treat each other that matter, not the tool used to communicate.

    If we succeeded in banning cell phones or blocking cell signals while students are school, we simply move cyber-bullying to another time of the day. Have we truly improved things if students continue to torment each other, but we can say, "but it didn't happen between 7 and 3"? We need to teach students to see cell phones and the Internet differently - as forces for good rather than weapons of destruction, if you would. Enrichment rather than diminishment.

    As a parent, I've tried to teach my own children these ideals. I don't fool myself into thinking that every text sent during the day is educational in nature, but I do see it used to ask questions about homework assignments, set up study times, etc. Also, it allows me to keep in touch with my busy children - to know when school is released early, calm my panic after a lock-down, know when they are heading to a friend's house to study or keep in touch during after-school activities. I work long hours and my children are busier than I ever was at that age - it's essential that we are able to communicate.

    If our politicians are truly concerned with the access and opportunities bullies have to harm others, why haven't we seen legislation to ban school buses, the "stomping ground" of bullies for generations?