The battles between the authoritarian forces in schools and the social, even anarchic forces in the seats of classrooms (moving at the speed of creativity in the minds of students) continue to rage. Cell phones remain contentious. How many schools will move beyond simply banning cell phones, to employing technologies which actually jam cell phone signals? Will this be legal? According to Anna Scott of the New York Times Regional Media Group:
Cell phones are the leading cause of suspensions at Southeast, [Michael] Horne [principal of Manatee County’s Southeast High School] said. Teachers have confiscated an average of more than three phones per day this school year. Each case can take up to an hour to handle, Horne said – not to mention the students’ lost concentration and learning time. Horne plans to spend nearly $100 to purchase either a cell phone jammer, a device that blocks all cell phone signals in the school or a single classroom, or a cell phone detector that lights up when a student’s cell phone is on. One of his teachers recommended a wall paint that could block calls.
Is this desirable? What does this say about our school systems and the authoritarian assumptions and cultures upon which many of them are built? How would this interactive dynamic change if public schooling was optional for students? In charter schools where students and families actually apply to attend the school, I think some of these dynamics are more often different. Leadership in schools remains vitally important, but the overall school culture is crafted by more than the agenda, personality, and attitude of its leader.
Why are students in school? If they don’t want to be there (and of course they should WANT to be there, but many don’t) should we force them to go? Situations like this reflect the difficult conditions in which many educators and administrators work on a daily basis. I think this is both a “sign of the times” and a symptom of trouble. I’m sure if I offered to share a workshop on embracing the constructive uses of cell phones in the classroom for learning at Southeast High School I might be regarded as a crazy man. Disruptive technologies like cell phones don’t have much of a role in the traditional classroom, focused on content transmission and unconcerned with issues of student engagement and authentic assessment. Our conversations relating to these topics need to extend beyond the technology, to the pedagogy and learning fundamentals which either are or are not expressed in the positions people take about these topics.
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On this day..
- K12 Online Echo Webcast TONIGHT with Brian Crosby! - 2010
- iPhone video trimming: Fast and functional - 2010
- iPad Sketching Conference Session Highlights - 2010
- links for 2008-05-11 - 2008
- Enhanced podcasts and bandwidth - 2006
- What do I want to do? - 2006
- Choices are more problematic than tools - 2006
- Digital immigrants just don't get it - 2006