Response to today’s conversation

Commenters on the AJC Get Schooled blog discussed the growing distractions caused by students using smartphones in class. A new study says smartphone distractions pose the greatest learning loss to disadvantaged and struggling students. Here is a sampling of reader comments:

Greg: It's interesting poor children suffer the most from using their $500 phones too much. I wonder if they have this problem in Calcutta.

Boo: My children both take their phones to school, and it isn't an issue. The phones stay silent in their lockers until dismissal. I mainly gave them both phones because of me, not them. I have pretty severe anxiety, and them having phones has helped curb it. I never text them or call them during the school day, but I have to know they have them for my own peace of mind. Think of me what you will, but no way will I ever agree with them not having their phones.

Ernest: Studies are showing the use of mobile devices is continually increasing and will (if it hasn't already) surpass the use of desktops and laptops. It only makes sense to determine how to best incorporate mobile devices in classrooms, as usage will be expected and perhaps required in the workplace.

Milton: Students are allowed to bring their phones into the classroom? That should be a no-go. Leave them outside the classroom or in their lockers.

Woodrow: I agree with those who propose abandoning the predominant teacher-up-front blackboard classroom model, and finding some way to incorporate phones in teaching. I realize that is not going to happen overnight, but for kids today, a phone is like an added sensory organ. So, they are experiencing the world, and life, through their phones. Once you understand that, some answers begin to crop up. One theory would be (e.g. in math and science) that if you have to look up a formula on four different occasions, you would remember the formula. Perhaps phones are the new calculators, which also used to be forbidden in class.

FormerTeacher: At a private school where I taught, students were allowed to bring their cell phones to school, but not into the classroom. Students could use their phones during lunch, but not in class. It worked well for all.

Awa: Our school has a strict policy: no phones in the classroom. Leave it in your car or locker. And if you have it in the building, it better be on airplane mode, because the locker that starts ringing or vibrating is cause for detention. Detention is one hour Friday, early arrival and sitting in a room — no books, no paper, no talking. One hour of sitting. Three detentions equals a mandatory week off any sports or extracurricular activity, plus after-school grounds or facility cleaning crew. Most kids find they can do without their phones during class.

Jim: There are way too many cell phones in use during inappropriate times and places. All schools should have a legal jammer built in, and the thing should be transmitting during all class hours. For that matter, fine restaurants, concert halls and theaters should have jammers. We have all had far too many performances interrupted by some fool's ring tone.

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