Cellphones in the Classroom Part II: Teacher Point of View


As you read this article, how far away is your cell phone? If a message comes in before you finish reading, will you check it? The compulsion to stay connected at all times to one’s web of contacts is powerful. In the classroom, it often proves too great a force to resist.

Students and adults alike have become so conditioned to the signals of pocket-sized devices, that immediate response is automatic and interruption expected. Focused attention has become difficult to maintain. Because the temptation has proven too great for most to overcome, cell phones and other smart devices should be banned in classrooms at Dartmouth High.

Some will argue that those who are able to keep their devices tucked away during class time should be allowed to keep them there, and only those who are caught accessing them should have the devices confiscated. However, this practice puts too great a burden on the teacher, and poses too great a temptation for the student.

What about emergencies? Or occasional academic uses? These situations can be accommodated by placing phones in plain view near the door, easily accessible should the need arise.

The bottom line is that society needs to be saved from itself. Everyone, at times, has felt himself fall down the path of least resistance. When the speaker is boring, the content confusing, or weariness overwhelming, technology appears attractive and soothing. This is but a slippery balm, dulling the user’s tolerance for challenging circumstances.

Anecdotally, in classrooms where the use of devices is verbally discouraged, students begin the semester fairly attentively. However, when a permissive atmosphere is noted, many students slowly become less industrious and often withdraw from classroom activity into personal clouds of technology as the semester continues. The original state of industry shows that productivity is greater when students believe tech use is not an option.

Additionally, the practice of deliberately placing electronic devices out of reach during class will strengthen the habit, leading students to follow the pattern during home study as well. Therefore, academic productivity at home will also increase.

A further advantage of enforcing data silence is that students will have more opportunity to engage in class discussion, interact socially during breaks, and spend down time between assignments in quiet contemplation or imaginative fancy. Without access to easy distraction, students will be pushed beyond comfort zones of solitary entertainment toward increased interaction with others in their immediate environment.

In conclusion, the benefits of banning cell phones and smart devices in Dartmouth High classes far outweigh the temporary discomfort of the unplugged student. A cell phone positioned strategically is easily accessed when required, and does not endanger student safety. Essentially, with the absence of electronic interference, education will regain its preeminence in the classroom.