April 14, 2010

Nice one TDSB

This post was last updated on September 5th, 2011 at 11:03 am

Warning: This post was written in about 10 minutes with a fair bit of emotion. While I’m hoping for clarity, I’m there’s no guarantee.
Update
: The story I linked to was from 2007. Someone from the Toronto District School Board was not able to confirm if indeed this policy is now in place.  However, I’ll not retract the post as the ideas and arguments remain valid in my opinion. This is not meant so much to attack a particular school district but simply to address the larger issue of cell phone banning that exists in many jurisdictions.


These are the types of decisions that continue to promote the “us vs. them” mentality.  What incites me is the reason they give for banning cell phones:

There’s the disruptive nature of the phone ringing or vibrating during class.

Students can text message each other and send answers about exams, a high tech way to cheat.

They can also access the Internet over the phones, making it too easy to surf or find answers they’re supposed to know while class is in session.

Phones can also act as MP3 players, another interruption.

And the built-in camera capabilities in them have been used by some students to post embarrassing and harassing videos to sites like YouTube.

Teachers are enthused.

Disruptive? That might be a good thing. But even if we don’t view the term disruptive in a positive sense, can we not involve students in developing policies that everyone agrees upon? In my experience, anytime students are given the opportunity to develop rules, it saves everyone a great deal of trouble in enforcing them.

Students can text message and cheat? Read this.

They can access the Internet over their phones. That’s a bad thing? Potentially but again, consider that if we value the idea of computers, kids are now bringing one with them to class, less cost on the taxpayer and the potential for learning is pretty great. We need teachers who understand the power and potential of having the sum of human knowledge in their hands. That’s an assest, not necessarily a liability.

Phones can act as MP3 players. Good. Heard of podcasts? Even if kids are listening to music while they work, why is that always bad? Perhaps this could be addresses with students as well.

Built in cameras? Could they use them for something like this?

Teachers are enthused? Why? I’d be infuriated.

I’m not suggesting the cellphones don’t cause problems. So do laptops, pencils and power saws in shop class. But until we realize the potential and involve students in developing responsible use policies, this lame approach will continue to be used in an effort to control things. Good luck with that.


cc licensed flickr photo shared by Scott McLeod