Why do we allow cells phones in school? | WisCommunity

Why do we allow cells phones in school?

By now we have all seen the vicious takedown of a teen in a South Carolina classroom by a resource officer, an incident apparently prompted by the student’s insistence on texting from her cell phone.

 Setting aside the officer’s reaction, which was totally unjustified, I think it may be an opportune moment to discuss why we allow students to carry cell phones in school.

 Since my retirement I have worked as a substitute teacher at the middle and high school levels and have seen the proliferation of these devices which started out as flip phones and allowed for clumsy texting. Now they carry smart phones which make it possible for students to play games or shoot video and all those other things young people do to waste time.

 School policies are pretty consistent. Cell phones can be used between classes or during lunch periods. Other than that they should be put away. That is the policy on paper.

 In reality it is much different. Kids being kids, they are going to press the limits. In every class at the high school level when the bell rings I am in front of a classroom full of students all staring down at their phones. I then remind them of the policy and, with very few exceptions they comply and put them away. At least initially.

 After that it becomes a battle of wits. I will see a student with their head down looking at their lap, or another with a backpack on the desk to serve as a visual barrier while he or she is using their phone.

 Or, they ask for a bathroom break, taking their phone and returning ten minutes later.

 Teachers are allowed to confiscate phones and turn them into the office for pick up after school, or, in the alternative just return the phone at the end of the class period.

 Once I had a student talking on his phone. When I confronted him he said “but I am talking to my mother.”

 Once I confiscated a phone from a student and less than five minutes later another student has his out to play games, completely undeterred by the earlier incident.

 Cell phones don’t add anything to the school experience. Oh sure, you can claim it can be used for research but all schools have computer labs now and in many classrooms there are laptops available.

 School should be a refuge, a learning environment insulated from outside interference.

 Students don’t need phones in school. It is time to revisit this policy.



October 30, 2015 - 8:57am