Three comments from teachers on a New York Times article on mobile phones in the classroom.
"Not my classroom, not ever. My kids are on their own in class, not propped up by gadgets. And don't tell me they're a tech-literate generation: they're quite helpless, even at age 20 unable to change a single-spaced document to a double-spaced one, and unwilling to pursue any question or issue beyond the first screen of its Wikipedia entry."
— Real Teacher, Bloomington, IN
"Seriously? Are you kidding me? As a teacher I am engaged in a perpetual battle against this technology as students use it in an increasing variety of non-productive ways. From kids who are simply not paying attention, or who are engaged in personal, (but very public), phone calls in the halls, to kids who text each other or check the web to cheat, this technology only encourages the 'what is the answer' mentality and discourages any real learning."
— Augusta Johnson, Andover, MA
"How about using a brain for a change, instead of cell phone?"
— Taras, Hancock, NY
OK, one by one.
Is this "Real Bad Teacher" in Bloomington, Indiana? His or her students are incapable of research because they have mobile phones or because he/she has not taught them how to do research? His or her students can not change document formatting because of phones or because technology education in his or her school is so poor? And, oh my, "My kids are on their own in class, not propped up by gadgets." How positively Socratic. Get those books out of the room - memory only. Get rid of that chalkboard - that technological devil of the 1840s. Pens? Pencils? Paper? Just ridiculous gadgets which make communication easier. Maybe we should get rid of the alphabet as well. Just one more silly invention to simplify and improve human communication and data handling. "Technology is everything invented after I was born"? This teacher truly believes that. I'm glad these students are being firmly prepared for the world of 1970.
Ms. Johnson in Andover: You are in a "perpetual battle" against this technology and your own students. How's that working out? When I present I often hold up the back of my right hand, where the "lead" of a pencil still resides from a stabbing with a pencil by a friend at age nine. It is funny, the teacher's response that day was not to remove all pencils from the room. I also watched many students pass notes in class and doodle, but I've never seen a teacher respond by removing paper from the room. When I was thirteen a classmate threw books at me. The teacher let books remain in the room. I've even seen students cheat with pens, with paper, with notes written on their clothing - yet all those technologies probably remain even in your classroom. See, Ms. Johnson, you either teach and demonstrate the best uses of the technology of your time or you find another job.
And Taras, we are humans, we are tool users. It is tool use, and the progression of tool capability, which has allowed human progress. I can imagine "Taras" sitting around at the birth of the stone age, "How about using your hands for a change, instead of that stone hammer."
I am so tired of teachers who refuse to look at the world around them, who refuse to adapt to a changing society, who refuse to respond to their students' needs and their students' interests...
Ah well, The Times won't post my comment - I'm never sure why they choose to restrict debate, but they do - so I'm posting it here...
Ira Socol, Michigan State University: Of course these devices, the most powerful information and communication tools on the planet, belong in classrooms. Some of us have been arguing this for a long time, based on the dramatic successes we've seen in other nations (where "smarter" phones have long been the norm).
Don't Hang Up on Your Students' Futures
Liz Kolb's Cellphones in Learning
Imagine - every student holds, in the palm of his or her hand, the world's greatest library, and the ability to ask any question, and to collaborate globally. Plus, an efficient text-entry system, a reading platform, a calculator, and even strong supports re: "Learning Disabilities." Oh, sorry, we've banned these devices from our buildings...
- Ira Socol
- About Ira David Socol
- Freedom Stick and Firefox Accessibility
- The Change.Org Posts
- IdeaChat 11 February 2012
- Counting the Origins of Failure
- Technology: The Wrong Questions and the Right Questions
- Today's "School Reformers" vs Real Change for Education - I
- Today’s “School Reformers” vs Real Change for Education - II
- The Toolbelt and Universal Design - Education For Everyone
- "Evaluate that!" - Schools for Children