Archives - Education: Page 22
Author: paul carson (Tue May 30, 2006 2:37 am)
Title: Cellphones and the Educational System
FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES
You’re a teacher in the New York City public school system. It's September, and you're lecturing the class on the structure of an essay. Your students need to know this information to pass your class and the Regents exam, and you, of course, hope that one day your talented students will dazzle and amaze English professors all over the country.
You turn your back to write the definition of "thesis" on the chalk board. It takes about 15 seconds. You turn around to the class expecting to see 25 students scribbling the concept in their notebook. Instead, you see a group of students who have sprung appendages of technology.
Jose has grown an earphone. Maria's thumbs have sprouted a two-way. Man Keung, recently arrived from China, is texting away on a cellphone connected to his wrist. And Christina appears to be playing Mine Sweeper on a Pocket PC on her lap.
Come the end of the term, a handful will fail the class. A number will never pass the Regents. As we all know, far too many will drop out of school. And I can tell you with no hint of pride that it isn't the teacher's fault. As much as any other problem plaguing our schools, the onus for failure should be placed on distractions in the classroom, specifically the cellphone.
Though electronic devices have been banned in public schools for years, the issue came to the forefront last month when Chancellor Joel Klein announced the random placement of metal detectors in schools. The result: more than 800 cellphones have been confiscated.
Students and their parents, who say they rely on cellphones for safety reasons, are outraged. There's even talk of a lawsuit arguing that the rule should be struck down.
But as a former New York City public school teacher, I can tell you that cellphones don't belong in the classroom. A student with a cellphone is an uninterested student, one with a short attention span who cares more about his social life than education.
Parents think of cellphones as a connection to their children in an emergency. I have a few questions for those parents: First, when was the last situation that genuinely called for immediate interaction with your child? In most cases, the hospital or the police would seem more urgent. Second, is phoning the main office and having it patch you through to your child not quick enough? And third, do you know why your children really want to take cellphones to school?
Because just like the new Jordans and Rocawear they desire, cellphones are status symbols. Because when their cellphone rings while the teacher is talking, everyone laughs. Because playing video games on their cell makes them look cool. Because text messaging their friend in the next room is more fun than learning about the topic sentence. So is listening to the new Three 6 Mafia song they just downloaded onto their cell.
And saying students can store their phones in the locker is a joke. If they have cellphones, they're going to bring them into class.
There are legitimate causes that parents should be taking on. Rally against crowding in the classroom. Fight against the oppressive and culturally biased Regents tests. But you're wrong on this cellphone issue. In this case, you are part of the problem, not the solution.
grow and be kind