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Teacher: What You'll Miss If You Ban Cell Phones in Your Classroom

Teacher: What You'll Miss If You Ban Cell Phones in Your Classroom

The topic of banning cell phones in the classroom has been heavily debated by teachers all across the country. One particular teacher believes that if educators ban cell phones, they'll be missing out on a number of important learning opportunities. 

"Occasionally my colleagues bemoan their student’s addiction to their cell phones," wrote educator Robert Sterner in an article on "I’ve seen it, too. The sly under-the-desk move, the obvious Snapchat selfie, the random laugh at a tweet snicker. Some of my colleagues have their students warehouse their cell phones at the front of the classroom every day. And some school districts have enacted district-wide bans. I contemplated doing the same thing at the start of this school year. However, I did not and found four things I would have missed had I banned cell phones."

Sterner wrote that the first thing he would have missed is to have "the conversation about proper use."

Employers are increasingly using data mining for background checks on potential new employees. Data mining is big business. The 'miners' use sophisticated programs to scrape, or extract data from websites including social media, and create a profile of the individual. What kids do and say now—as high school students—will stick with them far longer than we, teachers and students, might imagine. Possibly forever. If I ban cell phones outright, I can’t have this conversation about what the future may hold for my students. Certainly some students will continue to act in risky ways online. That’s what teens do—engage in risky behavior. I can’t change that, but I can make sure the students who are ready to listen and think before they act are informed properly.

A third thing he would miss out, according to Sterner is to share with students "the tool that they are."

"In my school district, we are fortunate to have almost all of our students walk through the door every day with a powerful device at hand. Cell phones, tablets, laptops. I have my students use their cell phones for things like:

  • Poetry analysis (dictionary) and composition (thesaurus)
  • Tweeting from a character’s point of view to aid character analysis
  • Research (short-term, brief only)
  • Photojournalism (both for viewing examples and creating our own photo essays

"Remember everything about that cell phone in your student’s pocket is vastly more powerful than the computer used by Neil Armstrong to land on the Moon," he wrote. "Take advantage of that power!"

Read the full story and comment below.

Article by Kassondra Granata, Education World Contributor

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