…but not an idea whose time has come, wrote Victor Hugo.
I just read a wonderful post over on the Fischbowl blog about a school ban on the use of certain “electronic devices” in class. The school I’m currently teaching at has just implemented a similar policy… and I think it sucks.
I was quite horrified when I heard the “new rule” for the start of the school year at my school here in Canada…
“No iPods, Cellphones or other electronic devices in class at any time”.
I can see little point in introducing rules that clearly cannot be enforced. I approached the vice principal after our first staff meeting and quizzed him about it, pointing out that I felt there were many educationally sound uses of an iPod in class, from class podcast projects to their use as a portable harddrive to some quiet private music to work to without bothering the rest of the class. He nodded sagely and said that of course, if it was for educational purposes it would be ok.
So what constitutes an “educational use” of these devices in the eyes of the administration? Apparently not very much, as we get reminded every morning that these devices of the devil are NOT to be in any classrooms. In my opinion, any use of these devices that makes the classroom a better place to be or for learning to be made more effective, relevant or just plain enjoyable counts as an educational use. I really don’t think many teachers would be prepared to tolerate too many ongoing “un-educational” uses of them, such as having kids blasting music into their heads while the teacher was trying to explain something to the class.
But other than that, what really is the problem? Can’t teachers, if they see the MP3 player being used in a disruptive or annoying way, just say so to the kid and use it as a chance to impart a little “learning experience” about appropriate behaviour and appropriate uses of the device?
By placing a blanket ban on iPods and cell phones and “any other electronic device” (whatever that means), the administration sets themselves up for failure, or at least an ongoing battle that they will ever really win.