April 21, 2010

School as Reality-Free Zone

This essay showed up in my local paper this morning: 2 limit txtN, jst taK awy ph. (English Translation: To limit texting, just take away phone).

Here is the comment I posted:

"I think it would be far more interesting and useful to use the phones for instant polling, backchannel responses, and finding other ways to embrace and teach ethical use of a technology they are clearly excited about than to simply try to remove them. Why should school be a reality-free zone? Think of the phones as an opportunity in information technology teaching and ethical use. Plato made the same disparaging remarks about new-fangled book printing technology thinking it would lead to the inability of students to remember anything or to be indoctrinated with dangerous ideas. Perhaps in the not-too-distant future we will look as absurd for wanting to try to ban a ubiquitous communication tool in our schools."


Mary Lee said...

Spot on.

Ms. Yingling said...

Yeah, but my children don't have phones, much less texting. I'm old enough that I come down on the side that there is too much technology sometimes. The kids need some time away from electronics, and what better time than school?

Jim (Teacherninja) said...

Mary Lee,


Ms. Yingling,

Well that's fine if it's not a problem. I was just commenting on the story of the school where they did have cell phones. I don't care if it's phones or those old "pogs" or whatever the kids are into it just seems like a better idea to use the thing of the moment as a learning opportunity rather than just banning them.

Kate Coombs said...

I did an informal poll of some high school kids, and they told me that in classes where teachers are strict about texting, about 50% of the kids are texting at any given moment. When the teacher isn't strict, it's more like 75%. So, leaving aside the disciplinary angle, why is the teacher even there when so many of the kids have checked out? (I know, even without cell phones, not everyone listens to the teacher, but I was still shocked by these numbers.)

I do agree with you in the sense that the traditional approach is clearly working less than ever before and change is needed--possibly of the "When in Rome" variety.

Jim (Teacherninja) said...

Kate Coombs,

Yeah, I never needed a cellphone or a laptop to zone out on the droning teacher. And my friends and I had no trouble communicating with a little thing call "notes." I guess the kids today would revert back to that old style texting if the cell phone bans ever became too Draconian.

Teachers need to either embrace the cell phones and texting and try to use it somehow or just try teaching more engaging lessons. You never know, that might just work.

klonghall said...

I thought of this post when I read about this website today. Have you seen this website: https://www.ischoolinitiative.com/Home_Page.html?

This initiative was started by the son of someone I know. There was an article on the Huffington Post about them recently, too. He's now a student at Kennesaw State. I was particularly interested in the educational apps section. I definitely think there is a place for more creative uses of technology with our students.