An Armchair Mayor editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
A SCHOOL in Victoria is going to ban cellphones. Sounds like a good idea to me.
As of September, students of Central Middle School will have to leave them at home. It’s bound to rile some students and parents, but according to principal Christopher Macintosh, simply placing rules around how and when to use them hasn’t worked.
“The detrimental impact of cellphones on our school is clear and overwhelming” he wrote in a letter to parents.
“Many students have tremendous difficulty managing their use of cellphones, and because of this, teachers are finding phones a serious impediment to instruction and learning.”
Macintosh said students were previously allowed to bring cellphones to school in hopes they could be a valuable learning tool. The school’s current policy is that students are allowed to use them for learning when a teacher chooses.
However, repeated modifications of policy have failed to reduce the negative effects.
“Simply put, we have learned that the educational benefits of cellphones in our middle school are extremely small, and the negative social impacts on the Central community are very significant.”
Use of cellphones by adults in the school will be restricted to emergencies and specific learning situations.
The issue of cellphones in schools is anything but new. Schools everywhere wrestle with it, and everywhere it’s controversial. In Kamloops, cellphones have been part and parcel of discussion and policy development around the social media phenomenon.
Schools apply district policy with various nuances. For example, South Sa-Hali elementary school restricts cellphone use during classroom hours. “If students bring cell phones to school, use is only before 8:35 a.m. and after 2:44 p.m.; this includes responding to and sending texts, unless teachers request students to use cell phones in class for learning activities,” says the school’s policy.
At Dufferin elementary, “Students bring cell phones to school at their own risk, and misuse may result in confiscation.”
Will more schools soon take the Victoria school’s lead and ban them entirely? Some educators continue to insist that cellphones can be good learning tools, just like other electronic devices. But Central Middle School, while continuing to use iPads and other such devices in the classroom, simply finds cellphones a distraction.
Kids are hooked on them. Our entire society is hooked on them. In any public place, in a restaurant, a doctor’s office, coffee shop, a hockey arena or walking down the street, count the number of people who can resist the urge for more than 60 seconds to pull out their phones and busily thumb their way through them.
We can talk about them being a necessary tool in this modern age, an instrument of safety and communication and all that, but surely students will learn to survive if they just leave the damn things at home when they go to school.