Opinion

Column: Banning Cellphones Doesn’t Prepare Students for a Mobile World

BY HUNTER DONELSON

The Independence School District added a new level to their cell phone policy that nearly wipes out all electronic communication. The new policy states that students will not be allowed to operate their mobile devices at any time during school besides their designated lunch shift or in the halls when the final bell rings. Additionally, that handcuff includes each passing period in between classes as well. 

Of course, having phones out in class is unacceptable and distracting for not only the students but teachers and classmates as well. The real problem is that one of high school’s major purposes is to prepare students for life in the workforce. This move by the school district is the ultimate prevention of self-discipline and responsibility. 

In a real-world working environment, the company president or some mid-level manager isn’t going to breathe down his/her employees back and continue reminding them to put their phones away. Essentially it’s up to the employee to have self-discipline and realize the consequences of being unable to withstand the temptations a cell phone can inject into its possessor. And those consequences can be severe, like losing the very job that helped pay for the cellphone in the first place.

Instead of existing in 2019, the district is still living in the past, trying to take us with them to a time when cell phones and Apple Watches weren’t even a thought. But why stop at the internet? Perhaps the school board should have us all spend hours researching in the library by torchlight to really experience the value of the internet. Or maybe, just maybe, the school district could understand that this current moment in time exists and we should live within it. There’s a great educational value that is relevant within the confines of a cell phone. 

Utilizing cell phones in the classroom isn’t something that has never been done before. Some teachers can get pretty creative with it. In one classroom, students had to think of the time period Andrew Jackson served as president and come up with a possible tweet he would have written using an app that directly presents each student response on the teacher’s board. In another classroom, a math teacher assigned “homework” using the popular mobile app, Instagram. She created a class account and asked students to post photos that show symmetry, convex, concave, adjacent, vertices, perpendicular, and parallel lines. Simple little things not only hone in on engagement but also educate students without even realizing it. 

“The district expects to maintain students respect by advocating for how well they can help our education one year, and the next year they’re adding more restrictions to where phones are almost banned completely,” said senior Maddie Carter. 

There’s one area of the newly implemented policy that is catching everyone’s attention; “if a student has their device out during passing time without permission, they will be directed by staff to the front office,” says the newest version of the phone policy.

Passing time, when most students are doing nothing but simply walking to their next class. At one point in our high school tenure students were told that passing time is our break in between each class to check our phones, talk to our friends, or whatever else we needed to take care of. Now that freedom is being stolen from under our feet. The more excessive these policies get, the more students sense the pressure of the ISD Big Brother, so to speak. 

The school district purchased items called Yondr pouches. Yondr pouches are like the security tags that get put on shirts at retail stores, nobody can open them without a specific magnetic contraption. So instead of putting them in the office, why not incorporate them in each classroom? Before each student walks into their respective room, they put their phone inside the Yondr pouch until the end of class. Once the class has reached its end, students would then get their phones back, have access to them on the way to their next class, and the same cycle repeats. This solution also eliminates a herd of students stampeding the front office at the end of each day to retreat their electronics. 

Administrators stopped by multiple classrooms to take questions regarding the new policy,  “I believe one reason is that cell phones can disrupt the learning environment not just in the classroom, but outside the classroom as well. If you have some drama on your phone, that can mentally distract you throughout the next class period when you should be focused on the task at hand. That’s really the only reason I could see passing time becoming included in the policy,” said Truman administrator, Shawn Sotheran when asked why passing time was a necessary addition. 

If that’s the case, the district did a very poor job at considering every possibility. That’s not the first time the ‘passing time carry over’ topic has been brought up with the new publicity of the policy, but consider it debunked. Problems and rumors can spread mouth to mouth almost as fast as they can electronically. It’s high school, the drama will happen no matter how hard the districts try to stop it. If they believe that teachers have their students’ undivided attention every second of class, causing distractions or not, they’re delusional. In actuality, the real distraction thus far in the school year has been how ridiculous this policy has become. 

By schools taking away any phone they see, they’re not really making it easier for students to resist that temptation in the future. Now that raises the question, was the district’s new policy focused too much on the present and not enough on our future? Modern-day problems require a modern-day solution, and this new policy attempts to solve the issue with draconian tactics better suited for the stone age. Pull out the feathers and ink jars folks, it’s only a matter of time before computers and typewriters are the next “distraction” to go.

Categories: Opinion

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