Cell Phones in Class???

May 4, 2010  |  Education

You remember school.  It’s that place that Boomers went to years ago when dinosaurs roamed the earth.  For the most part, we sat where we were told to sit, did what we were told to do, wrote on blackboards, read text books and did our essays by hand on foolscap.  Oh how the world has turned.  Now, teachers are using SMART PHONES as teaching tools, and students are being ENCOURAGED  to bring their own phones into the classroom.   “Outrageous!” you say?  Let me tell you why it really isn’t… (More…)

CBC Radio host and blogger Nora Young does a show called “Spark” – one that she promotes as an “ongoing conversation about technology and culture”.  Recently, she tackled the issue of cell phones in the classroom and interviewed a high school math teacher in North Carolina – Homer Spring -  who is a big fan of high tech.   According to him, smart phones allow him to show students concrete examples of the way in which math relates to the real world.  For example, chatting with a carpet layer one day, he asked the man if he could video him talking about how he calculates the amount of carpeting he needs to do a job, and then show him actually doing the job.  Brilliant.

Skeptics take note.  Anything that engages a student in the classroom and encourages him or her to explore and discover is a GOOD thing… High tech or not.  Ask Homer Spring, and he’ll tell you that technology is not going away.  The world changes, and we need to keep up with it.

Is the privilege of using a phone in class abused from time to time?  No doubt about it.  But for most students, that phone is a tool, allowing them to connect the dots between theory and real life.  We’ve come a long way since a pen and a piece of foolscap were the only things you needed to write an essay.   Makes you think, doesn’t it? ;-)

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  1. Love it, Kathilee! I think you’re absolutely right. Up to this point, the educational system has made little allowance for technology. The introduction of “smart boards” is about as far as it goes in some schools. Teachers often don’t have time to go to the bathroom on a bad day, never mind figure out how to incorporate smart phones into their lesson plans. The system needs to catch up before it misses the boat.

  2. Learning is a uniquely personal experience – the best way for you to learn is likely different than mine. Yet we have an educational system that has made little if any allowance for this. Perhaps the advent of individual technology in the classroom will finally allow the system to catch up with the scientific knowledge in a productive way. That is if the politicians and the technology averse don’t get in the way!

  3. Thanks for the parent’s point of view, Sylvia! You’re so right. It’s amazing to us as Boomers to see children embrace this technology as if they were born knowing how to use it… Because… guess what? They were born knowing how to use it! Thinking back to my time in school as a Boomer, the biggest piece of technology I ever learned how to master was the Smith Corona typewriter I used to tap out all my assignments on. Then came… drum roll… the CALCULATOR. That was a major development in math class, yet if you’ll recall, it caused untold uproar because parents believed using a calculator equaled cheating. Maybe times haven’t changed as much as we think they have… ;-)

  4. This makes so much sense! Learning in context; engaging; practical applications…
    When I watched my 10 year old daughter navigate my iPhone 2 hours after I bought it, I marveled at how her brain was so naturally intuitive to the technology. They live in this world. Electronic connectivity to whomever or whatever they need is a given. For them, limiting access to it makes no sense.
    Great post, Karen.

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