Earlier this week, in response the parent and staff concerns, Earl Grey Senior Public School in The Toronto District School Board banned cell phones from class. This closely follows a similar move by Herring Cove Junior High School in Nova Scotia. At least, that was the media story.
In fact, the so-called ban was really just providing a set of restrictions around when students could and could not use their personal devices. Students could still bring their phones into class if their teachers wanted students to use them. Otherwise, they should be stowed in their lockers.
Students will be allowed to use their phones at lunch, but not for social media, texting, taking or viewing photos and videos. So I guess as a paper weight? And I wouldn’t want to be the staff who are responsible for supervising students who are on their phones at lunch and making sure they aren’t texting or posting. How could you ever enforce that?
The story did provide an opportunity to discuss the issue however. In my opinion the cell phone ban, and how people react to it, it a “bellwether issue”. If you see schools as places where students go to learn how to behave and follow the rules, you support the ban and want those distractions out of schools. If you see schools are places that engage students in learning about things they care about, you oppose a ban. I fall into the later category.
I was asked to speak about the issue with Wei Chen on CBC’s Ontario Morning (Feb 24, 2017) and you can listen to a “dodgy” recording of the interview below.
A few days later (Feb 28, 2017) I was also invited to speak about Cell Phone Bans with Matt Galloway on CBC’s Metro Morning.
And then on March 14th I was the guest on Ontario Today, Ontario’s No. 1 call-in radio show, to discuss Cell Phones in Class: Are they a hassle or a necessary tool?
This is an issue which resonates with a lot of people for a lot of different reasons. It says a lot about what we think schools are for, what learning in our classrooms should look like and what the influence of technology is or should be.
Your thoughts and feedback on the issue and the interviews are very much appreciated.