Days of School Hours and (Confiscated) Cell Phones: We See Them, We Take Them!
When I was in high school, I was swamped by peers and bullies alike using their cell phones. I saw them on the bus (I underwent a transfer system, where I have to ride separate school buses on a round trip from home to school each weekday.) sending out text messages. I saw them in chorus gawking at photos of their boyfriends. I saw and eavesdropped (discreetly) on them calling their friends at lunch.
Well, I have seen a few instances where teachers confiscate their phones or write detention slips or referrals for usage. The rules for most school districts are that they should be used after school - off the buses and classrooms.
Conversely, back in my day as a high schooler, that policy was seldom enforced. Perhaps the teachers were too lazy to overhear and eavesdrop what they are saying or having as their ringtones. Maybe they are to lackadaisical to march up to the student and snatch the device from her.
That made me wonder: are those little phones good for school?
Considering the Right Time and Place for Handheld Phones
There are times and places for everything, including mobile devices. Who wants to sink into the teachings of the gospel when someone's phone plays reggaeton music loudly during Sunday Mass at a historically significant Catholic church? I don't. Who enjoys a quiet meal at a restaurant where haute cuisine (read: fancy cuisine) and Regency Era decor rule the roost with that polyphonic tune breaking the tranquility? I also don't tolerate that.
The same holds true in either band class or Algebra I. Who can learn much needed skills for the SAT if someone's hip-hop ringtone goes off? I'm not able to do that! I can neither hear how expressively should we play a particular a piece nor know how to solve inequalities with that noise emitting from it!
First, the Good
There are a few good reasons to let students bring phones to school. First, they allow them to create strong contacts with each other, should they graduate or move. Secondly, they can call their parents when there's an emergency in the school or school bus. Best of all, they can silence them, meaning that they can keep them at places where use is not permitted.
Professor Luis Keeps Sangfroid Under Blaring Ringtone (Good for Him!)
Bad Reason #1: They are DISTRACTING (In Sound, of Course)!
Students bring their phones for a lot of bad reasons. I agree with those teachers that they are school disruptions.
So how are those little phones that distracting? Well, a lot of them have those musical ringtones, which range from the classical to the recognizable (from television). They match their personalities and their moods. So, when they receive a call, their ringtones play, telling them that someone is calling them. When someone calls the student in class, the process starts and interrupts the class.
The same holds true with vibrate modes. Although discreet, they can buzz loudly so that everyone in the class can hear it.
The New Answer Sheet
Bad Reason #2: They Make Them Cheat
Gone are the old days when kids sneak to peek at fellow students' answer sheets during exams to cheat.
Mobile devices are high-tech answer sheets they can look at to find the answers to semester exams or standardized tests. They type messages to themselves or receive them from friends for the answers and store that information. Most of them have Internet access, where they can look the answer up.
Whether it's a touch-screen phone or just peeking into a scantron sheet, cheating is still cheating. Consequences of doing so apply to all methods: parental phone calls, final (not able to make up) zeroes for tests, and suspension.
Some teachers tell their students that when it's time for testing, they would ask their students to put their cell phones in a box and out of sight until it is over. They even ban cell phones altogether in classrooms.
Bad Reason #3: They Put Low-Income People Down
Not all students have cell phones. For most of them with tight budgets of lower incomes, owning one is only open for the affluent. Think about this: if the "haves" have them, how would the "have-nots" react? No matter how much they plead on bended knee or beg their parents, they deny it because of money.
Few but growing numbers of school districts motivate students to get their cell phones free of charge if they do good in school to break down the walls of social class. But that causes other problems and it goes back to the distraction game.
Teacher Wins Again!
Bad Reason #4: You Can't Focus In School
Besides annoying ringtones and vibrate modes, mobile phones can keep students focused on them and not their work. They can't pay attention to how they should play a concert band arrangement of a Bach work if they are texting their friends. They can't concentrate during note-taking in World Geography Honors if they are receiving calls.
It's hard to pay attention when students busy themselves with their phones, so why should they have them out? Basically, they know all too well that it's just the way it is.
Bad Reason #5: Privacy Breaches
With students having access to their phones, they compromise their privacy. If someone tells a girl to send him a picture of her in questionable taste, chances are that virtually everyone would know her. It's also a bullying tool as well as a weapon of harassment. Students can send insults, threats, or uncomfortable requests readily between each other if distant.
Policies on cell phone use vary from school district to school district.
In my former one, the first offense for using a cell phone in the class is confiscation, a phone call to the parent or guardian, and return. The second one includes all of the above plus a mandatory parent conference. The third one would include all of the above without return plus disciplinary actions including detention, work detail, and parent shadowing. Subsequent ones may even include out-of-school suspension.
In some places and situations, teachers just grab the offending pupil's phone and simply throw it to the ground, breaking it. That can be harsh to her, but that would teach her a harsher lesson.
Cell phones in class are OK, but under one condition. They have to use it during class only if there is an emergency or if they want to be picked up due to them feeling sick enough to stay home from class. They should not let their little communication devices get in the way of learning. They should immerse themselves in skills needed for later life, not just how their friends and family are doing.
I was proud to not have a cell phone in my high school days. Because of policies regarding use, I never had bought one in my teens!
He Can't Stress That Enough! Have Your Kids Save Their Phones Only For Emergencies!
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