Have you ever heard of the gruesome Columbine High School massacre? This incident occurred on April 20th 1999 and involved two students embarking on a shooting rampage, killing twelve students, a teacher and wounding twenty three others. Unfortunately during this incident, the school’s most easily accessible phone was on the complete other side of the school in the library. Perhaps some of these lives could have been saved if the students in this class had cell phones that they could’ve used to contact the authorities more quickly.
The issue we are addressing today is the usage of cellular devices in educational facilities. Both Cameron and myself believe that cell phone usage is of extreme convenience, and has academically beneficial aspects, among it’s so called “faults”. In a nutshell, here are some academically beneficial aspects of cell phones and other PDA devices. Most modern devices are capable of remembering complex math theorems and are able to note due dates for assignments. My phone has a “Notes” application, where I conveniently store all of my assignments.
Don’t waste your time!
Order your assignment!
So, for those of you who are arguing that there is no reason to have a phone in school, how do you think I get absolutely all of my homework assignments done on time? Another aspect that is advantageous in most cell phones are calculator applications. Rather than spending an additional $100 on a fancy Texas Instruments calculator for Trigonometry or Calculus, I am easily able to access an application on my cellphone that allows me to take advantage of all of the functions that any standard calculator is able to use. There is no real “problem” with cell-phones in themselves.
Students just need to learn, and remember, that there is a time and a place for everything. A cell-phone should generally not be used in class, unless perhaps somebody is standing at the front of the room with a gun, or if there was some other calamity, such as: kids making bomb threats and what not – for these reasons I find it completely reasonable for a child to be permitted to be equipped with a powered “ON” cellular device. I don’t know about you, but if I have kids one day who are potentially in danger, I would want to be aware of this at once.
The chief argument against cell phone usage in school is that they are a disruption. I would agree with the fact that people who have those disgustingly loud rap music-blaring ring tones can be quite annoying, but how often do you actually HEAR somebody’s cell phone go off in class? A poll given to over a thousand students at the North Atlanta High School in 2007 concluded that over 85% of the students who bring their phones to school keep them on silent at all times. If cell phones are kept quiet, how are they disruptive? In most cases, nobody even notices a student using their phone in class.
I think that the main “disruptions” that take place are the teachers who go all crazy making a big deal and going off on huge rants about kids using their phones, when a simple “put that away please” could work just fine. The fact that the individual who is using the cell phone is not getting their work done, or is not learning all of the concepts discussed is their own individual problem, and they should be left alone, rather than interrupting everybody else who is actually trying to learn. Another rather erroneous argument is “Oh, back in the day we didn’t even have computers and we lived life just fine. The problem with saying this is that time moves on. When an advantageous tool comes along it would be silly to automatically discard or disallow it because we got by without it. Why do students use pens, and not pencils? Why use calculators instead of working out every mathematical problem in the margin? People who treat new ideas or more ubiquitous technologies with an attitude of “we don’t need a new way to communicate, there’s a land-line in the office”, or “we don’t need internal plumbing, the thunderbox works fine”, continuously strike down possibly good ideas before they come to fruition.
People who bring their cell phones to school are oftentimes accused of using them to cheat with. Although there are people who do this, is that the only way that kids cheat? Absolutely not. Pens and paper might as well be banned also if schools are going to be banning cell phones and iPods for the reason of cheating. Maybe every student who is taking a test should be equipped with a pair of ear plugs, so to stop them from asking a student next to them for an answer. According to a survey given to teachers at several schools in Boston, students using cheat sheets and passing notes are six times more common than kids who cheat with phones.
Although it is debatable as to weather students should be allowed to use cell phones during classes, free time at school is also a time at which students who use cell phones are persecuted. If one needs to talk to somebody about something important, it is slightly unreasonable that he or she should have to sneak around with their phones during free time in flex or lunch. Why should somebody not be allowed to use a cellular device during their personal time? There are really no legitimate reasons. I still maintain to this day that school is a place to learn languages, learn maths, learn history, and, most importantly, learn how to learn.
It is not a place to learn conformity or regulations that have no bearing on society, or becoming a drone who automatically accepts everything an authority figure tells them. My best teachers encouraged me to question the world and really explore all the answers, keeping in mind to stay on the task at hand. My worst teachers told me to shut up and take down everything written on the board as being automatically right and true, even when some smart alec would show them that they were demonstratedly wrong.
I would like to close my argument by stating that I think cell phones should be allowed in school. I think that although they CAN occasionally cause disruptions and what not, there are ways of dealing with them other than placing school-wide bans on them. I think a student possessing a cell phone should not be punished, for there are legitimate reasons for students to be allowed to have them. I think that as long as a student is not being deliberately disruptive with their cell phones, they should be overlooked.