Downwardly Mobile

In response to France’s move to ban mobile phones from schools, now other countries are considering the same.

Well, sort of. Since 2010, France has already banned mobile phones from classrooms; what is controversial is the French proposal to ban mobiles from schools entirely. So, countries like England and Australia are only actively considering what France has accepted without question for years.

Of course, following the consideration to do the blindingly obvious, there is the backlash from the professionals. The ABC quotes NSW Secondary Principals’ Council president Chris Presland as saying

We talk about trying to stimulate STEM education in our schools … it seems quite bizarre that we’re talking about banning the most obvious forms of technology at our disposal. 

Dr Joanne Orlando, an “expert on children and technology” at UWS is also against any such ban. Responding to government comments, Dr. Orlando responds that

 it takes us a few years back from all the work we are doing in education and training … There are so many new ways that mobile devices can add to the classroom.

Thank God for experts.

4 Replies to “Downwardly Mobile”

  1. Call me old school if you want (lots of people do, including those older than me) but I’ve never quite understood the push in schools to have technology everywhere and then let the learning magically fit where it can. OK, now call me idiotic or unworldly for not understanding the role of technology in education (again, people do. I think its a bit of a cop-out line to use when you’ve run out of ideas, but I digress).

    Technology is great IF (and this is a big IF) it fills a need, fits a purpose or improves the efficiency of a process without detracting from the authenticity. I think it is great that students can access knowledge quickly and easily with mobile devices.

    Unfortunately, in most classrooms, there are often a select number of students who prefer to watch cat videos and start arguments with strangers. Or troll mathematicians who write for The Age.

    But thanks to the experts, who don’t need to be in a classroom to know what happens, I stand corrected.

    Actually, I don’t.

  2. I think the major benefit of the smart phone is Googling (for research or the like). But I don’t see the need for that for 99% of the time when the students should be listening to the lecture, taking notes, working problems, etc.

    I do see a value for a scientific calculator in chemistry and physics. The numbers are just a pain and we are not testing their ability to do these detailed arithmetic, not in high school, but their ability to do proper unit conversions in chemistry/physics or make sure that the they know sin is vertical and cos is horizontal for the cannonball problem, etc.

    Given all the potential distractions from the phone and the very limited uses from it, I think banning it makes a huge amount of sense. I can’t imagine it any other way. Most US schools don’t allow them at all (or if they do, require them turned off, or stored in lockers…i.e. out of the classroom.)

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