I’ve made no secret of my feelings about how technology has to be embraced in the schools, so sometimes when I see stuff like this I want to whack my hand against my head.
In a nutshell: Mayor Bloomberg wants to continue the unenforceable ban on cell phones in the schools. He says it is distracting. Parents want him to lift the ban, because that’s how they say they communicate with their students. Some thoughts:
Parents, you do not need to communicate directly with your students during school hours. If there is some need to get a hold of students, office staff will kindly deliver a message to have your child contact you if need be.
Mayor Bloomberg, MANY SCHOOLS struggle with banning the use of cell phones in classrooms – unsuccessfully. How you can have a “ban” you can’t really enforce seems a bit strange to me.
Both parents and Mayor Bloomberg- YOU ARE MISSING THE BOAT. It seems that the issue that neither of you are addressing is that having the cell phones in schools allows many students access to a learning tool, and a powerful one at that. How much longer can we pretend that the giant electronic and tech-savvy elephant is in the corner? We can only assume that students are on their phones because they are not engaged, and they are doing stuff on their phones that we would rather not have them doing in school. I get that completely. So our job as educators is to make sure we show them what IS appropriate usage, and to give opportunities to students to use technology appropriately. We can no longer ignore technology or pretend that it doesn’t have a place in our classrooms. Not only does it “have a place,” it’s essential that our students know how to use technology in efficient and productive ways.
That means that we have to EDUCATE them that texting and taking gross pictures and playing Farmville on Facebook are not the ways to utilize technology. That doesn’t mean we block them from certain websites, or ban cell phone usage.
Equally important is to make sure that those students who do NOT have access to cell phone technology DO NOT FALL BEHIND. Perhaps we write grants to purchase cell phones to use in schools. Perhaps students can teach each other how to best use this technology to their educational capacity.
We have to get creative. We have to get smarter. We have to address technology – and we have to address it about 15 years ago. But our students will thank us for it, because by addressing it now, we are able to let them know that we CAN prepare them for their futures as global citizens.