Banning cells in the class a good idea, but won’t be easy


Nothing makes one feel old quite like comparing today’s classroom as those of yesterday.

At least that’s the case for this reporter, anyway.

The Ontario government’s recent announcement of a crackdown on cellphone use in schools really hammered home just how different things for students and teachers in today’s tech world.

As a graduate of the class of ’04, cellphones did exist, but not nearly to the degree they do today. Basically you could send a text, store about 40 grainy photos and you had to flip it open to use it. Facebook? TikTok? Internet access at all? Not for another five or six years. At best you could play a really cool two-dimensional game. And they certainly weren’t in the pocket of every student.

Today’s teacher however has to be constantly scanning the room to make sure students aren’t scrolling their phones during a lesson. There’s no question mobile devices are a distraction-even a lot of adults can get lost playing on their phone when they’re supposed to be doing something productive (guilty). From that perspective a ban makes sense, particularly for younger students. As part of this new legislation, students in Grade 6 and below are not to have any access to phones during the school day. Grades 7 to 12 will require special permission from their teacher.

While banning phones sounds good in theory, enforcing those rules will be easier said than done. The fact that its come down from the provincial level is good in one sense because teachers who draw the ire of students can simply say their hands are tied, they’re only following orders. At the same time, it’s putting another burden on teachers who will now have to police this new policy. Teacher unions have already spoken out about this new responsibility, which was certainly to be expected no matter what education-related legislation the province implements. It’s no secret these two sides don’t really get along.    

Tech literacy is a must for today’s teens entering the workforce so finding a way to include mobile devices into the lesson from time to time for senior students only makes sense. The discipline to not have a nose a phone when there’s work to be done is an invaluable skill in today’s society as well. For the most part, this new legislation appears to be a sound idea. Actually enforcing it is going to be a challenge and will require buy in from teachers who already have a lot on their plate. If done right, this policy could lead to better learning outcomes for students-but good luck trying to explain that to the students.

-Speaking of cellphones, a friendly reminder, May 12 is Mother’s Day. It’s not too late to get a card or put an alert in your phone to call your mom. A happy mother’s day to Mary Prudhomme who has always been there over the years and particularly of late, helping to navigate the world of HR and payroll on this journey of newspaper ownership. A happy mother’s day to all the moms out there as well.

-Adam Prudhomme

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