We have a cell phone addiction problem in our schools. Students today have New Boards or Smart Boards in class, laptops and cell phones. Teachers get judged on at least 32 categories based on the Danielson’s Rubric. How is a teacher to compete against cell phone addiction?
In my Black history class, I was observed teaching about boxers Jack Johnson and Joe Louis; the boss complained few students were engaged in the lesson. I asked if I could smash phones with a hammer, and was told no. It is a small class, full of many shy students and where four of the 12 students are constantly playing games, texting on their cell phones or listening to music on their ear buds. How many times I have called on a student and they can’t hear me because they are listening to music.
My job is to teach, not be the smartphone-ear bud police, In Al-anon 12-step program for family of an alcoholic, teaches the practice of “detachment.” Detachment does not mean you do not care, it means you allow the other to suffer the consequences of their actions. No one can stop any addict from their drug of choice until they admit they have a problem and get help.
My suggestion is cell phones be collected by security at the beginning of the day, and handed back to students at the end of school day. Cell phones and social media have increased mental stress, self-injurious behavior and suicidality among our kids. Should not the Board of Education, administrators and teacher unions not support a ban on cell phones during the school day? Our students need to learn about how to live in the present. Do not be naïve, there will be no true “engagement” in class until the phones are locked during the school day. As an aside, I have never owned a smartphone — and I am still alive.
James C. Geist