Cellphones have no place in these classrooms

Jack Macleod is frustrated with a recent response to a typical cellphone faux pas:

…one of the schools in Nova Scotia had two serious fights with racial overtones on Tuesday. 26 students were suspended and the police are involved. Yesterday, the Principal held a press conference and let the media know that cell phones were involved. Apparently, students were using cell phones to text back and forth after the first fight and somehow this led to the second fight. (I’m basing this on news reports).

Jack’s frustration lies here:

…the Minister of Education called for a review of cell phone policies at all school boards in the province. Given the media scrutiny, a review is probably appropriate. However, the media reports indicate that the Minister “believes that cell phones have no place in the classroom.”

He asked for my response which I left on his blog and I’ll leave here as well:

Cellphones don’t have a place in a classrooms where global collaboration isn’t valued.

Cellphones don’t have a place in classrooms where multimedia and diverse communication isn’t valued.

Cellphones don’t have a place in classrooms where authentic learning experiences aren’t valued.

Another question is why do cellphones have a place anywhere? Should places of business have cellphones? If they do, why should schools be different? Do we want students to experience as much real world learning as possible?

I understand not every teacher has the wherewithal to implement a cellphone into learning but many do. Why not use the place that is supposed to prepare students for the real world and provide opportunity to practice and learn these skills?

As these devices continue to look and act more and more like a computer, schools will be confronted with the brutal fact that they are not providing relevant education. Again, this is not to suggest every school begin to allow every classroom cart blanche in using cellphones but the response to completely ban them isn’t the proper response either. In this particular case, it’s such a lame response that in some ways abdicates responsibility from schools. I’m a firm believer that if students were involved to create reasonable rules and etiquette, many of these issues would be resolved, not all but many. Then we can get on with the idea that these are and can be learning tools.

I actually think that Nova Scotia’s policy is a good start, not perfect but a start. I hope the ministry doesn’t pull an “Al Upton response” and react in haste.

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