I had a conversation with a schoolteacher in a Madison school last weekend. We chatted about the changes in their health insurance, and how the pandemic impacted the learning path for some students. But it was the matter of cell phones which most animated the instructor to express concerns about the way they intrude on her classroom and distract her students. What she told me was similar to the national conversation that is heard in news broadcasts and through social media. Young people seem fixated on their gadgets, to the exclusion of learning in a classroom.
I have a very difficult time understanding how cell phones ever started to be allowed in a classroom, let alone being so much of a problem that it is “a constant battle” to have students put them away as the teacher told me. I am continually surprised at how consumed young people are with their personal phones. I say that since not a single one is dealing in stocks or making plans for international intrigue so one can fairly inquire what has them so captivated. Granted, the same can be said for adults, too. But children are still being shaped and molded and should not be allowed to drift off aimlessly into their hand-held devices.
The biggest distraction for me in school was Carol Lisak who had pretty eyes and would turn around in her seat and roll them at me as she made facial expressions, all in an effort to make me laugh. She found her mark every time and what confounds me to this day is that I got in trouble for laughing as opposed to her memorable antics. I am well aware those types of classroom issues pale over what teachers now confront.
Following the conversation with the teacher, I spent some time online looking for a bit of data to show what can be done to curb the cell phone problem. The stern approach of a teacher setting down the line which cannot be crossed, I am told, is just not reality in many classroom settings. So, to bolster and support instructors school districts ranging from Colorado to Ohio to Maryland have placed a ban on these phones in class. The National Center for Education Statistics in 2020 reported that cell phone bans were in place in 76% of our nation’s schools. The problem with kids and phones is a worldwide topic. In September 2018, French lawmakers outlawed cellphone use for schoolchildren under the age of 15. In China, phones were banned country-wide for schoolchildren last year.
Madison must do the same. I urge the school board to implement what candidate David Blaska urged in a race for the board in 2022. When addressing the matter in a forum he held up a paper grocery bag and said, “cell phones go in the bag and [students] can get them back afterwards.” First and foremost schools are the place to learn and grow and whatever impedes that mission must be dealt with. Education is too precious a commodity not to have it fully implemented. When teachers speak so forthrightly about the need to curb cell phones in the classroom the school board should heed the views of the educational professionals.
For the record, my husband and I do not own a cell phone. James has a thriving guardianship business which is all conducted with our landline. Yes, we have a flip phone for long vacations, or day trips that are placed in the car, but if you ask me to give the phone number for it, I would be a man who just missed getting a huge payday. I live in a tech world with my podcasting but have no desire to be connected 24/7 on any device. I know with certainty that a classroom setting which has so many avenues for distractions all on its own, should not be further burdened with cell phones at the desk of students.