Sunday, April 14, 2013

I Agree With A (Retired) CTA Member

Page 8 of the April 2013 issue of the CTA mouthpiece rag contains the following "letter and comment" from a retired teacher in Palmdale:
Cellphones are a crutch

Regarding the article about cellphones in the classroom (March), cellphones are a crutch.  Have students use their brain, not their fingers texting for answers.

I contacted Sprint, and for two cellphones with a two-year contract it only costs $150 a month.  If I add apps it costs more.  As a retired teacher, I can't afford one.  What about the children whose parents work for minimum wage--are they the toss-away kids left to beg and borrow from rich kids to learn something in school?

I can just see the teacher distributing a test.  Cellphones click to take a picture for another outside friend and everyone gets 100!  Think of all the 4.9 grade point averages sent to colleges.  Throw away the damned cellphones, install a filter to stop the transmissions in the school, and go back to teaching.  What happens if the battery is dead on their cellphone and these kids have to think for themselves?
Except for the fact that blocking wireless phone signals is illegal, I agree with this guy.  Advocates say that the information is out there, let kids access it and then they can think about it. I assert that true critical thinking, which is what every teacher says they want students to be able to do, can only take place when the student has a large base of knowledge already in his/her head and can draw on that information for integration, contrasting, or elucidating.  Merely looking up information when you need it?  What motivation would there be to learn it?

Too often we do kids a disservice with these silly fad ideas that pop up.


Anonymous said...

Darren: "Except for the fact that blocking wireless phone signals is illegal..."

Small technical correction: *JAMMING* a cell phone signal is illegal. *BLOCKING* is totally legal.

And one can purchase RF-blocking paint (it basically needs the right metal particles) or one can "wallpaper" the room with something like aluminum foil. The windows can be a problem, but just getting the walls (and ceiling) to block goes a long way. And the windows *CAN* be dealt with, too.

California budgets about $10K per K-12 student per year. We could kill WiFi and cell phone access in most rooms fairly cheaply (and we'd only need to do it once ... then 10+ year maintenance). We don't do it because, collectively, "we" don't want to. Not because it is illegal.

-Mark Roulo

Ellen K said...

If you here the acronym BYOT, get ready to fight. Having had to deal with Bring Your Own Technology for two years I can tell you that the students are more distracted than ever. And those students who have the most special ed paperwork come loaded with the most stuff. Phones, tablets, game systems and more are all things that we must regularly take away from distracted students. I have had one of my tests posted on twitter. The students can text without looking, girls from their purses, boys from the pockets of their hoodies. I have talked to teachers from every discipline and almost without exception we are seeing less involvement, lower scores and slower progress in everything from Art to AP Biology. This movement was instituted by administrators who didn't want to spend more money on technology and saw this as a way to cut costs. Obviously they haven't been in the classroom for a long time. More than that, having so many different tech sources bombard young minds is creating more distraction. The idea that students will learn on their own is laughable. How can they learn anything when they don't even know where they're going? Go watch>

Darren said...

Both of you make excellent points.

Anonymous said...

The author of the editorial says "What about when the battery is dead?" Sad thing is they are bringing the chargers with them to school and using the schools electricity to recharge them! It becomes a "Which battle do I fight" and when Admin doesn't support the teacher who is confiscating phones, then other teachers stop enforcing the policy. I wonder how many CST questions will end up on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, et. al. this month? I know in my class, Any phone I see during CST's will be mine for the remainder of the day. But how much damage will have been done already?

Ellen K said...

I refuse to let kids charge phones or devices in my room. They come to school and stream videos and such all day eating up battery time. Let them do without if they cannot manage their devices better. This should be the policy for all school as it add a ton to school district energy usage.