STORY AND PHOTO BY TRAYONA LAWRENCE
“Yes”, says Eric King, Howard Simms, Jennifer Poisson, Clarence Cross III, and Rydia Wright. All agree that cell phones and cell phone usage should be allowed in school, but their reasons differ. In this article we are going to explore the minds of three teachers, three students, and their views on cell phones in school.
Student, Eric King believes that cell phones should be allowed in school because “a cell phone is a mini computer in your pocket”. He doesn’t believe that school staff should have the authority to take students’ cellular phones because it’s an invasion and “it should be against the law”. According to King, “students should be able to get contacted on those cell phones with important messages. Or sometimes you can use your cell phone to help you with your work.” He believes that the only disadvantages regarding cell phone use are “cheating on a test”, because there is a possibility that could happen.
Teacher, Howard Simms, believes that students should be able to have cell phones in school. He says that “We just need to have tougher regulations and expectations around using them. " I believe that cell phones are an excellent tool to use in school.” This belief came about just a couple years ago at an ASCD workshop he attended. There they explored the idea of embracing technology instead of fighting it. He says that administrators should only be able to confiscate the phones if they’re being used against the school’s policy. However, he also believes that the policy should be more clearly established. Simms stated that students can/have used cell phones for good. For example on October 29th, 2013, he had a student who almost got into trouble for using a cell phone, but didn’t because he was using it as a dictionary, which there is a lack of in our school. While he believes in the usage of cell phones, he admits that cell phones can be very distracting if used improperly.
Teacher Jennifer Poisson says that “Whatever policy a school is going to enact, I will enact that policy. Personally I think having a cell phone is okay for emergencies, contacting family for rides, but I do not think it should ever interfere with education.” She believes that if the student is on the cellular device in class then it’s an issue, but if it’s in a purse or bag it's not an issue. She believes that administrators should have the authority to impound the students cell phone. “If there is a policy like there is at this school [Tech Prep] and an administrator does not enforce that policy, then you’ll have the problem where students start to take advantage of leadership. Then anything an administrator asks a student to do ends up being null and void. If a student doesn’t follow one rule and a leader doesn’t enforce it, why should they follow any other rule?” she said. Like Mr. Simms, she also thinks that cell phones can be useful for instruction. She gives an example of students using their devices for the dictionary because the school doesn’t provide enough for the students. She adds that, “It’s useful for research and it’s a lot easier than me having to plan and make copies of articles for research, when I know that if not 100%, then very close to 100% of students have cell phones in my class. So I can easily say, "Okay, you now have permission to pull out your phone and go to this website.”
Teacher, Clarence Cross III believes that cell phones have now become an “indelible mark in our culture that we won’t be able to get rid of.” And he believes that schools should regulate the use of cellphones. He says that schools should set expectations for students on when and when not cell phones are appropriate. He states that the “idea of privacy is different in public institutions” and says that the right of an authority to confiscate students' phones is a natural right and power. He believes that if “you can sit in a classroom with your phone in your pocket and not look at it for a hour and a half then we’ll go for it, but the reality is that most students and adults cannot.” He encourages students to put their phones in their lockers. He uses Twitter for his class homework in order to incorporate modern technology. He believes classrooms can be a place where cellphones are effectively used as a tool in education. He gives an example of a teacher who had his students text their answer and then having their answers appear on the board. Cross believes that cell phones can be a distraction for students who don’t have self control stating that most adults have the same issues. He says adults have better control over themselves and states that if adults are struggling with the issue and have good self control, imagine the student who doesn’t have any self control. This is why he encourages students to leave their phones in their locker stating, “There is no emergency in which your parents cannot contact the school to get in contact with you.”
Student, Rydia Wright agrees with the rest of the participants stating that students should be allowed to have cell phones in school. She believes that administrators should first give the student a warning before taking action. Then if the student continues to be defiant, the student should be sent out of the class instead of having their phone taken. She states that there is a risk of the phone being “stolen, misplaced, or just anything happening to it as a result of it being taken". She believes that it is up to the student to decide to give the administrator their phone. She states that cell phones have become essential to everyday life and almost anything can be found by just looking it up on your phone. "The disadvantage of using the cell phone," she states, "is cheating and using the cell phone for bad".
I personally believes that cell phones have their advantages and disadvantages. Students should be able to use their cell phones because everything has a good and a bad. Where do you stand? Leave your comments below.
Trayona Lawrence is a junior at Friendship Tech Prep Academy.