Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Three Important Lessons Banning Cell Phones Teaches Kids

In his post “I lost something very important to me” Will Richardson shares three important lessons that banning cells teaches kids. They are:
1-It teaches them that they don’t deserve to be empowered with technology the same way adults are.
2-Tools that adults use all the time in their everyday lives to communicate are not relevant to their own communication needs.
3-They can’t be trusted (or taught, for that matter) to use phones appropriately in school.
I recently had a cell phone enriched lesson plan shared with me (stay tuned, will be posted shortly) by a secondary teacher who is empowering students to harness the power of cell phones in their learning. And guess what happened when he did? They came up with their own list of appropriate use.

20 comments:

  1. Love the wall, but not would like to see more evidence of the claims made about what they 'teach'.

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  2. @Anonymous, I'm not sure what "claims" you are referring to. Can you clarify?

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  3. Recently I was introducing students to database management. They all have an example in their pockets or their lockers. When they realized I was talking about their cell phone contacts, light bulbs went off all over the place!

    --Pilar Wyman, Computer/Tech Teacher

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  4. This is beautiful!!!
    Sometimes we tend to underestimate our students just because they are too young to go about this or that topic... And see?! They just keep surprising us!
    Loved the wall!!!

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  5. If you could count on all students abiding by any or all of those suggestions, then great. But it only takes one to be a disruption. The technology apologists (and I teach technology) would have us buy the bunk that since adults use it so should students. Since when do we equate adolescents with adults, and the privileges (maybe rights, but not fond of that) -- and certainly responsibilities -- that come with that? Technology definitely has a place, and time. Kids and cells (multifunction nuisances in this environment) are not terribly compatible. IMHO. You can let them in your classroom. I won't, just as I don't allow food in a computer lab. Not appropriate.

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  6. A great idea. They are going to use them anyway. We might as well take advantage of the kids' own technology to teach with.

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  7. I wish I could believe that it would work for all students. The problem is that in my situation to many students would use them in ways that are not of educational value. I look forward to seeing your lesson.

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  8. I love your post about teaching with cell phones. Although some students may not follow the rules about their use, those same students are the ones that won't be successful if we don't engage them on their terms. If that is all it takes to get a student interested, I say let's take that chance.

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  9. "1-It teaches them that they don’t deserve to be empowered with technology the same way adults are."

    Teaching kids that they don't operate on the same plane as adults is fundamental lesson of life that too parents of the "highly prized child" school fail to teach. There are separate rules for each. These parents also fail to discern between being authoritative and authoritarian. I consider this some sad remnant of the anti-authority attitudes of the now (thankfully) discredited counterculture of 30-40 years ago.

    Responsible and disciplined adults use their cell phones sparingly and only when necessary. It's up to them to model proper behavior with cell phone use. Using cell phones for constant yakking is a ridiculous and highly. The evidence concerning EM exposure is significant.

    As a parent and an education, I am not afraid of saying "no" to either my own kids or students when they demand something that's representative of present fads in pop culture. A cell phone to a kid is a toy. We live in a society infested with retro-adolescent boomers and Gen X/Yers who still have to buy the latest gizmos as toys because they haven't grown up. Why they are afraid of aging I have no idea. Aging is not a curse. It's a blessing, but few people see it that way.

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  10. "1-It teaches them that they don’t deserve to be empowered with technology the same way adults are."

    Teaching kids that they don't operate on the same plane as adults is fundamental lesson of life that too many parents of the "highly prized child" school fail to teach. There are separate rules for each. These parents also fail to discern between being authoritative and authoritarian. I consider this some sad remnant of the anti-authority attitudes of the now (thankfully) discredited counterculture of 30-40 years ago.

    Responsible and disciplined adults use their cell phones sparingly and only when necessary. It's up to them to model proper behavior with cell phone use. Using cell phones for constant yakking is a ridiculous and highly. The evidence concerning EM exposure is significant.

    As a parent and an education, I am not afraid of saying "no" to either my own kids or students when they demand something that's representative of present fads in pop culture. A cell phone to a kid is a toy. We live in a society infested with retro-adolescent boomers and Gen X/Yers who still have to buy the latest gizmos as toys because they haven't grown up. Why they are afraid of aging I have no idea. Aging is not a curse. It's a blessing, but few people see it that way.

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  11. Well I guess it's just a matter of attitude. We can't blame the kids for having a bad attitude toward learning if the adults are guilty of the same attitudes. We have to wake up and smell the coffee. Students are going to bring them to school, they are going to use them at school and there is little we can actually do about it. It's like have law against "Jay" waking, there is a law but people ignore it and there aren't enough cops to enforce it.

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  12. I don't understand how denying cell phone use in school is indicative of a "bad attitude toward learning," if indeed that's the suggestion here.

    The argument about "kids are going to bring them to school anyway" reminds me of the same lame argument in favor of handing out condoms to school kids.

    Guess what, folks, part of our job as adults is to play the bad cop when necessary. It's not our job to be our kids' pals or their buddies. Our job is to serve as authority figures first. That's how respect is taught.

    Most schools I know have zero tolerance against phones in school. If a student is caught with it out in the open, it's confiscated and returned later. That's a proper and responsible adult manner of handling the situation.

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  13. Too many of the posts on the wall, as well as comments to the blog post, are viewing cell phones in a "privlege" or "toy" vein. They are used as rewards for finishing work on time ('can use last 5-7 minutes after homework is done").

    Where are the ideas about how to use them as learning tools? It looks like even the kids see cell phones as social tools only, rather than tools for research, organization, etc.

    When we treat cell phones like toys, that's how students will use them. I hear many teachers complain that they can't access the computer lab frequently enough for students to do some research. Guess what? They don't need the lab when students have cell phones that are internet-capable.

    @marksrightbrain - I have a 17 yr-old daughter who is forbidden to use her iPhone in school. She tends to be organizationally challenged, but uses her cell phone for research, calendar, task list, reminders, etc. -- the exact same way that I use my phone. She has found a 'best practice' to keep herself organized.

    In school, she is told she can no longer organize herself this way. Please explain to me, based upon your above arguments, how zero tolerance in her school is preparing her for how she will become a responsible adult? When she walks out of high school will she MAGICALLY know the best way to use these tools?

    Not only should we allow cell phones in the classroom at a developmentally appropriate time (upper elementary through high school), but we should be TEACHING appropriate use of cell phones as well. I know MANY, MANY adults who have no clue about cell phone etiquette.

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  14. Michelle, the silence from the nay-sayers after your comment speaks volumes to the argument you put-forth. I agree...we are not teaching students how to use these correctly...just like when we tell the child not to touch the hot stove, they are not going to listent to us and touch it anyway.

    If it helps the learning process then why shouldn't we use it? I would suspect, judging by some of the logic used by some of the nay-sayers above, that they would be more than willing to bust students for using calculators in an algebra class because the teacher in that particular class taught wtih a slide rule.

    Its not a toy, its a tool. Its a tool for conversation starters (I have students text 5 others outside the class to get their opinion on an a topic). Its a tool for applied learning (students use their cellphones to upload pictures to our Flickr account highlighting the economic situations in our town and we apply them to the topics in our Econ class). Its a tool for on-demand learning (students in my AP Economics class will often times record a video of me walking through a graph or a problem on the board in a content area where they are struggling). If you treat the phone as a tool, it will be used as such and further enhance the students learning. If you treat it as a toy and punish students for using it then they miss out on not only how to use a cell phone properly and professionally, but also on some great learning opportunities.

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  15. Part of our jobs as educators is to model and teach proper behavior. Texting is a manifestation of pop culture mania and not grounded in practical or pragmatic purpose. Texting is basically a redundant service. Group communications can be very adequately handled via BB systems. Individual communications can be handled via traditional phone calls or email. Feeding the immediate gratification "need" of children is inappropriate and not at all what any responsible adult should be doing.

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  16. Michelle: you are attempting to use the solitary example of your daughter's unique circumstance as a rationale to generalize your view across the educational spectrum. I also don't know what criteria you are using to judge her level of organization, either, as a result of using her cell phone.

    Tell me, the same level of organization couldn't be equally achieved using a traditional notebook planner? Guess what, it only costs $5 as opposed to $200, with no monthly fees, either.

    Personally, I have a big problem entrusting a $200 phone in the hands of a 17 year old. It just smacks of kind of indulgent opulence so typical in today's overly materialistic and consumerist society, in my estimation.

    I'm teaching my kids to make do with less. The times call for that pragmatic approach.

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  17. In response to the Anonymouse comment above -

    Comparing food to mobile device usage in a computer lab is hardly appropriate itself. Food, beverages especially, are harmful to computer equipment and you are right – they shouldn’t be allowed in a computer lab. Technology devices in a computer lab, well it just makes sense!

    Anonymous – did you even read the rules that the students developed for cell phone usage? Rules such as ‘Phones will remain on the desk and visible of teachers at all times’, ‘Phones must be on silent’, ‘No texting in class’, ‘no calling during class’, ‘No browsing the internet during class’ – these are the general themes of the rules. These are all STUDENT made rules. Anonymous, you are absolutely right in that “it only takes one (student) to be a disruption” however by involving students in making the rules, they are more likely to hold themselves accountable for upholding the rules.

    “Multifunction nuisances” as you call them are actually finding their places in the classroom. The following website offer many tools available on the iTouch that can be used in classrooms.
    http://oedb.org/library/beginning-online-learning/100-ways-to-use-your-ipod-to-learn-and-study-better

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  18. that is crazy, cell phones should not be baned because if they do not use it right you can just take it from them. ok what if a student don't have a pencle or paper and he/she always askin a student for these small things, thats a problem in class because they dont suppose to talk bla bla bla. let me tell yall something if a student is having a migrane head ake and they have to go to the nurse, yall wont let them because u think they are lieing. well you people are crazzzzzzzzyyyyyyy ok. duces, peace out, im out of here, see u later, hope u will stop being crazy. hahhahhahhahhahhahahahahahahahahahahah

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