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The Great Cellphone Debate

In May 2017, Central Middle School in Victoria, BC made news headlines as they banned the presence of cellular devices on school property starting in the 2017/18 school year. The great cellphone debate began on social media with both sides of the argument bashing heads, and sharing quick rebuttals. The issue in this situation is not the cellphones, the issue itself lies in the children themselves.

I know that there are many who will disagree with me on this, yet the truth is that I strongly disagree with the school’s position on this issue.

My oldest daughter is heading into grade 8 in September. She has had a cellphone since grade 5 for emergencies. She is responsible for getting herself to and from school, as well as to her plethora of dance and theatre classes weekly. Having a phone with her allows us to stay in constant contact when needed. Taking away her right to carry her phone, and leave it in her bag takes away our ability to communicate as needed. To check in and make sure she has arrived and/or departed on time. She is not alone. All aside from a couple students in her class for the past two years commute to school on their own.

With more and more students taking responsibility for their own commutes, and fewer stay at home parents to do pick up and drop offs, I have to say that cellphones really do form a significant part of parental peace of mind.

This year her teacher took a different approach and has allowed the kids to use their phones for music during quiet work times, and there have been times this year and last that her teacher has asked her to text home. I have even received text messages from her teachers with reminders or asking permission for various activities.

In university I have become accustomed to texting profs as it has become the preferred method of communication for many. The way that we interact and incorportate cellular devices in our day to day lives, education and employment are rapidly changing and we need to ensure that our children understand that there are rules surrounding the use of their devices. The rules begin at home, and continue in the classroom.

I was attacked over my view of the importance of teachers and cellphones when this story first dropped. Apparently my respect for my daughter’s teachers setting rules surrounding the use of cellular devices and enforcing those rules means that I have completely neglected to teach mt child respect at home. My viewpoint according to one poster meant that I was expecting teachers to do my job. I told you these discussions were getting ugly!

Yet I stand by my opinion. The rules of teachers regarding the wearing of hats or the chewing of gum are no different than regulating cellphones. Teachers should have rules, and enforce those rules.

Yes, I expect the school to instill in my children an understanding of the rules of society. This is at the very core of the sociological purpose of education. Part of the hidden curriculum is to teach children how to behave in society. With the increasing popularity of cellphones they would also fall within that hidden curriculum.

No, this does not take the onus off of the parent to teach their child about respect and the right time to use devices. But at the very least students should walk away from school understanding that different situations call for different rules and regulations. Not every locale will have the same rules. Having spent time working in retail, I can tell you that quite a few of the younger (I am so dating myself here) generation have the basic understanding that there are times and places for their devices.

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