Fear of the Cell Phone

I have to be honest...I almost posted this yesterday, about an hour after I posted about the fishbowl discussion.  But, I decided to bite my tongue and think through everything that was flying through my head.

Not many things increase my blood pressure, but when I read this article from the Boston Globe website, I probably should have taken an aspirin to lower it a little bit (it isn't long...I suggest you take a look at it).


Essentially, the Rhode Island legislature is reviewing a bill that would "prohibit students from using cellphones during the school day."


We need to stop making cellphones the scapegoat and start engaging students when they're in the classroom!

The problem isn't the phone, which is what the legislators and teachers are focusing on.  The problem is that teachers aren't challenging students with relevant, meaningful instruction and students are bored with school.

The article concludes with the following:

"They can live without distractions for a few hours every day," she said. "We grew up without them."

If this is the prevailing attitude, we're never going to reach a reform in education.  As teachers, it is our job to convince parents, administrators, colleagues, and even the government that we don't need more oversight...we need more freedom of technology use.  Students today are growing up in the 21st century...and like it or not, that includes cell phones, smart phones, ipods/pads, and a thousand other tools.  Instead of fearing the change, we should push the change and teach these kids how to effectively use the power of information availability.

Don't jam 21st century learners into a 20th century learning model because that's what "we" had to do.  Let's continue to dialogue and set the example so we can push education forward, and not backward.

4 thoughts on “Fear of the Cell Phone

  1. CJ says:

    Thought…wouldn’t limiting cell phone (and some other technology) use help cut back on cheating?

    • Brian Bennett says:

      The point is, though, that teachers aren’t engaging their students. They’re becoming so passive, kids have been able to take out their phones and photograph a test.

      My students have their phones, ipods, ipads, and computers out in class every day because they’re being used to help the kids learn. Because they’re active and engaged and because I’m active and engaged, I haven’t had one cheating incident. The whole point is that we can’t keep trying to control phones…we need to be more proactive and less reactive.

  2. sheryl nads says:

    If you have not had a cheating incident, it is not because there aren’t any…its because you are not keen to the new methods of cheating. I have taught for 10 years and cheating has always been tried…it won’t stop.
    You are correct in saying “they’re active and engaged because I am active and engaged”…it is because of you, NOT the technology that the students are learning. Passion is contagious. I am not arguing against technology in the classroom. I believe that is a vital skill set for students to learn for life, but the OVERUSE of technology…technology every day all day…when students are constantly plugged into their iWorld (iPod, ipad, email, internet) they are missing out on critical social skills…I have seen numerous graduates who are fantastic at all of the technological aspects but cannot pick up on verbal and nonverbal social cues during interviews and other settings. It is embarrassing. Graduates social skills are at a freshman level. Technology should be used in conjunction with other types of instruction, not in place of it. Students are already technologically advanced but are severely lacking in social skills. Furthermore the instant gratification that students can receive with technology can prove to be an obstacle in life, as work, relationships, and life in general do not have instant gratification, but rather the sense of accomplishment from hard work. The younger generation has been conditioned for instant gratification and becomes impatient when results are not immediate. As educators we are supposed to prepare the whole person for life with ALL of the tools (technology, social skills, and hard work involved) necessary to success.

    • Brian Bennett says:

      Thanks for the reply, Sheryl-
      While I do agree that *some* students are constantly trying to find new ways to cheat, I am not oblivious to the fact that there are probably some things happening that I’m not completely aware of. But, because I know my students, it is painfully obvious when a C student scores in the 95 percentile on an exam or quiz.

      I do agree, however, that the face-to-face time is the important part of my class. The technology I use is merely to deliver the direct content so I have the “extra” time to speak one on one with each of my students every day. Don’t get me wrong…just because I use the tech doesn’t mean they don’t do some good old paper and pencil work. And yes, the technology for the sake of the technology is counterproductive…and that’s not what I’m about. I have all of my materials posted on my website (linked)…you can check some of it out to see how I manage my class.

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