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More about Phones

June 16, 2012

My blogpost about “educational” use of phones in class has generated quite a lot of debate, (even a couple of blogposts) and so I thought I’d respond to at least some of it in a new post. Thanks to everyone who has contributed to the comments on that post. I would recommend reading through them as here I am mainly revisiting the “attack” posts and there are a lot of better ones that don’t really need a comment from me.

As you may recall, I argued that phones are obviously a distraction from learning. I observed the absurdity of the most common attempt to downplay this issue. I argued that even the alleged benefits of using phones in class relied on accepting the framework of progressive education, which challenges at least some aspects of: the legitimacy of teacher authority; the value of subject content, or the importance of direct instruction. Finally, I observed the typical behaviour of the mobile phone advocates and supporters of progressive education in general when confronted with debate and dissent.

I will revisit each of these points in turn in order to consider the counter-arguments. The distraction issue is, to me, very difficult to overcome but some people have tried. One of the most inevitable approaches (common to the progressive tradition) is simply to dismiss it as a significant problem and suggest that any apparent problem is down to the shortcomings of any teacher who dare disagree and that, a better teacher (often, but not always an appeaser) would have solved those problems:

Hence:

If a teacher is sufficiently interesting, their students will prefer to concentrate on what s/he is saying. If the teacher is a bore, students will amuse themselves somehow. In my young day, I either passed notes, drew on my textbook, or read my own book under the desk Now I might tweet about how bored I was.  (Comment from chris)

If you are crystal clear about when and how phones are to be used, then there isn’t a problem. (Comment from Lindsay)

One thing that does worry me is so many people saying its a classroom management issue… I agree that it is… But as the teacher we will find it a whole lot easier to manage children if we meet them half way where appropriate, and embrace the things they do obviously love! (Comment from Mike Elliott)

I also wonder if part of ( I say part) of the problem with challenging classes which by the way I have lots of: ADHD, abused children, autistic children, and very low ability in one class for 2 years, is that we constantly say ‘you can’t rather than ‘you can’. Challenging children need extra stimulus not just the teacher… (Comment from Mike Elliott)

Obviously I have no sympathy for the “blame the teacher” stuff, particularly in those cases where appeasement, or making lessons more interesting, is suggested as the key to behaviour management. Distractions caused by mobile phone use will be lessened by better classroom management. However, better classroom management comes (in part) from management of distractions. There’s no point working hard to sort out behaviour in one way, only to undermine it in another.

Others (taking a more sensible approach than the behaviour denialists) have questioned the scope of the issue. Do my concerns apply to all learners? Can we trust sixth form students or FE students not to let themselves be distracted? Perhaps we could also ask about students in HE or upper school in grammar schools. It might well be less of a problem in one-to-one tuition or small group teaching where a teacher can directly oversee students more easily. I don’t really have answer to this (feel free to comment if you do) but I feel this is in many ways a side issue to what I was talking about which was, inevitably, based on teaching whole classes in secondary schools.

There’s also the question of the nature of the ban. Having worked at several schools where phones were banned in class, but not in school, and experienced lots of serious misuse, I would heartily recommend complete prohibition with a requirement that if parents insist their children need a phone for the journey to or from school then it should be handed in at reception at the start of the day, and collected at the end. I have seen this work very well indeed, although it needs managers with some backbone. That said, it is always the enforcement that matters more than the precise rules, so in some schools it might be possible to get away with something less strict. However, a rule that says phones are only allowed when teachers say so, is likely to be harmful to learning, as it creates constant pressure for all teachers to conform to the lowest common denominator. Any situation where the recommended sanction for phone use in class is to ask the child to put the phone away is an absolute disaster in most schools.

Little has been said to defend the illogical “would you ban anything else that distracts?” approach, but comments close to that line of argument haven’t discontinued:

I can’t express how strongly I disagree with the attitude that if we find something kids like and enjoy; we ban it! That to me is the insane approach. Comment from Mike Elliott

However, an equally illogical line of argument that I had seen before but didn’t mention last time – that as we cannot hope to eliminate phones completely we shouldn’t ban them – has reappeared (or at least I think that’s what these comments were getting at):

Deciding to block out the existence of mobile phones is like censoring all conversations about sex – the more we avoid something, the more appealing it becomes.  We create the taboo and expect children to not be curious.  It’s a fairly Victorian concept.

From the New Stateswoman blog.

Very hard to know how such a ban could be enforced (good idea or no). Parents might back it in principle but they’ll want an exception made for their wee Jeannie… (Comment from maths teacher)

Apart from the fact I have seen a mobile phone ban work well, the logic of this argument, that if you can’t eliminate something completely then it is best not to prohibit it, is obviously absurd and almost everything that is banned in schools (say, racial abuse or setting fires) provides an obvious counter-example to this line of argument.

There have been a few suggestions for ways of using phones, such as photographing homework instructions, or timing events, that assume a lack of equipment, or laziness, rather than progressive pedagogy, but nobody has really objected to the point about progressive education. Far from denying that progressive ideology is required for a belief in classroom use of mobile phones, people have gone out of their way to reinforce the point. Some have described what happens in their lessons and it does not appear to be the teacher teaching the class:

In the next two weeks, I will be teaching one of my English classes about non-fiction and media by asking them to create a documentary, using their mobiles phones to film interviews and to take pictures.  I will trust them to use their phones sensibly by reminding them of the consequences of inappropriate use.  I will use technology to facilitate the writing of explanation in the form of ‘voiceovers’, which they will record on their phones and save on a memory stick.

From The New Stateswoman blog.

I would have to disagree with you. I am no tech expert, however I do allow my pupils to use phones in class. Here are a few instances of this:

  1. They can take photos of text book pages and pictures so they can read/look at them at home.
  2. when we are in an ict room there are never enough pc’s for each pupil so sometimes some pupils research using their phone.
  3. they are often more comfortable using the camera/video on their phone than a school flip camera and so choose to use it by preference. This also means smaller groups in class when they are making videos
  4. there are Websites like polleverywhere that I use. This allows the pupils to text in answers and opinions anonymously so I can get some excellent AfL
  5. in class pupils are starting to ask if they can access my blog to get information to inform their work (this has been particularly noticeable during revision lessons)

There are other instances too, like checking the spelling of a word using a dictionary on their phone that happen quite regularly in lessons. (Comment by geogteacher)

I take all of your points here, but I rarely have all 30 students working in the same class unless I am running a classroom workshop. Most of the time they are using various practice rooms, see my post here:

http://teachingandlearningmusic.blogspot.co.uk/2011/05/schrodingers-students-guest-blog.html

I am very lucky to work in a school where I can trust 95% of the students. They are far from biddable, but they are respectful on the whole. Have you looked into Musical Futures pedagogy?

http://www.musicalfutures.org.uk (Comment by Martin Said)

I think if a teacher just stands at the front the whole time or in their chair like my secondary teachers did then you’re right it would be hard to manage. However if the teacher sets group work and interacts frequently with the children then it will be so much easier to manage that child in the corner a teacher can’t see to well from the front… (Comment by Mike Elliott)

Others have actually defending the tenets, or slogans, of progressive education:

…you say,

“Learning involves the intentional acquisition of knowledge and is not simply a by-product of purposeless activity or play.”

Let me quote John Seeley Brown who says in his book “A New Culture of Learning”..

“In a world of near-constant flux, play becomes a strategy for embracing change, rather than a way for growing out of it.” This is not to ignore a need for knowledge but to recognize that simply, knowing a bunch of stuff is no longer suffice. What play does is suggest to the learner that there are multiple ways to find answers and discover ways to solve problems.

You also say,
“Teachers are experts who can pass on knowledge to their students more effectively than if they are left to find it for themselves.”

This assumes the primary purpose of schools is to pass along knowledge. Kids don’t need teachers to give them knowledge, they need teachers to help them learn and learn beyond schools. That includes helping them connect to others. This is the fundamental shift I’d suggest is most difficult for our schools.

… all times it should be about helping them become learners and live in a world that indeed does have ubiquitous access and that in itself should have us questioning our methods. If it doesn’t, if we say, “I don’t care about them having access to the world’s knowledge in their hands, I’m teaching how I’ve always taught”, I’d say that’s problematic.

As one high school student stated, “The day I needed to memorize the capital of Florida ended the day my phone knew the answer”. (Comment by Dean Shareski)

Sure if you’re standing at the front and want kids to pay attention to you, a phone is a distraction and has no place in a school. But what if we taught differently? Should we teach differently? I’m not expecting we understand specifically what that might look like but you’re painting me a picture of the same classroom I was in 30 years ago.

If we haven’t realized by now that the world has epistemically changed and changed precisely in the area of learning, there’s something wrong.  (Comment by Dean Shareski)

As a music teacher I deal primarily in “skills”. In terms of an epistemology of music, this could be describes of knowledge how to. This is where I err from Willingham’s view that factual knowledge precedes skill.

…There is an inherent and unhealthy need in western culture to make music into something tangible, which is a result of a traditional hierarchical model applied to music, where the composer sits atop a chain which runs through performer to consumer. The distinction between performer/composer/listener would not be understood in many cultures. There is some excellent research on this the musicologist Nicholas Cook.

By the way I don’t think that project based learning’s requirement for a product is at odds with this observation, as the musical learning is a result of the product, but is not the product itself.

Musical progression is a difficult thing to describe non-musically. Musical Futures has had a massive impact on music education and at its heart is the teaching of music musically. Students experience and internalise sounds first, then learn the factual knowledge associated with this.

As a music teacher, and one who uses a Musical Futures approach, I support the exploration of the judicial use of mobile technology. The potential in the devices seems worth exploration, and the barriers presented are exactly that. They are bad things. They are bad things that we might overcome. (Comment by Martin Said)

This article actually saddens me a little for the following reasons:
1. You say the primary purpose of teachers is to impart knowledge. The whole premise of the current curriculum is that teachers teach skills so that children can acquire their own knowledge. How many of us remember the teacher who told us about some random scientific fact? But does remember the teacher who taught us how to research or search the internet of ask appropriate questions!
Additionally, shouldnt we prepare the children for life outside school and education? If we ban things the kids are only going to use more and more as they get older (which you said yourself) then surely we are hampering their education rather than enhancing it. (Comment by Mike Elliott)

I’m not going to explain here why I think progressive education is wrong, but I would recommend anyone read more widely on this blog before trying to persuade me that there is any benefit to that particular tradition. In particular, there will be several upcoming posts that deal directly with the idea that technological change justifies reducing the subject knowledge content of the curriculum.

Finally, the attitude of the progressives to debate and dissent has been pretty much the same as ever. At least one person who tweeted about my blogpost decided to block me first. Others have been personal or even insulting:

… to completely dismiss mobile technologies as having no place in a classroom is bordering on educational malpractice. (Comment by Dean Shareski)

You write lucidly and argue well Andrew but there is a joylessness here that I sense is a result of you feeling at odds with what you would deem the prominent progressive educationalist view. (Comment by Martin Said)

But it’s exactly this kind of post – the wolf in sheep’s clothing – that is latched onto by the luddites who want to proclaim that technology is bad and use the fallacy in reasoning, “We’ve never done that before, so let’s just keep doing what we’ve always done!” (Even though what we’ve always done doesn’t work…) I’m really disappointed that you are being given this platform and this voice when you simply got in over your head…

…Please stop spouting off about your own deficiencies as a teacher. It’s not relevant that you found mobile phones to be a distraction. You are a survey of 1, but you are influencing others to avoid technology through fear and ungrounded accusations. Please just stop. If you have nothing impactful to say, just say nothing… (Comment by Jesse)

Others have talked as if I’m against all technology in the classroom:

Others have spent time reassuring each other that their arguments aren’t as bad as they seem:

I always enjoy reading your thoughts Dean! I particularly enjoy your last line, “…to completely dismiss mobile technologies as having no place in a classroom is bordering on educational malpractice.” As usual with any educational tool or pedagogical thinking, it seems that it is the absolutes that hinder progress and effectiveness. There are times for this and times for that and complete isolation has seemed to be good only for conflict! (Comment by Kristin Tamas)

I am of the view that little has been said to counter my previous post on by the pro-phones side. If anything we seem only to have confirmed the extent to which advocating the use of phones in class is a proxy for the progressive education, with nothing in its favour for those of us who have no sympathy for the progressive education tradition and who would rather teach than let kids look things up on their phones.

Dilbert.com

43 comments

  1. As one high school student stated, “The day I needed to memorize the capital of Florida ended the day my phone knew the answer”

    Dean Shareski quoted one of his pupils saying this. I think this is desperately sad and the sort of attitude which explains current educational failures. He seems to approve of it.


  2. “In particular, there will be several upcoming posts that deal directly with the idea that technological change justifies reducing the subject knowledge content of the curriculum.”

    Much technological change is just really “a new hat”.

    e.g.

    EWB = Blackboards
    Powerpoint = Cut and paste paper and picture on card

    and so on. Yes, something do it much better, but we mustn’t get away from the fact that you are still basically doing the same thing. Web 2.0 isn’t “new” it is just an extension of the old stuff with a new coat of paint.

    If you write a blog ; or a web page it is still fundamentally the same as writing it on paper. You still have to compose, write coherently, spell well, use grammar good, lay things out nicely and have something to say.

    The blog is just the publishing medium. You might have sent it to the paper, or the school magazine or the Beano in my day ; now you publish it on the Internet (where unless your story is called “Hot teen chix” no one will read it apart from your mum, possibly).

    Yet some people persist in seeing this as different. What they don’t grasp (I suspect many of them are advisors or other non permanents) is like anything else the novelty wears off. Any child will be enthused by the publishing of something on the internet the first couple of times, but it wears off rapidly. The thing to do is not to pretend that doing this stuff is really learning anything new but attempt to use this little burst of enthusiasm as a way of developing a love of writing rather than technology.


  3. I dislike tthe way in which people “embracing new technology” smugly think that this somehow makes them a better teacher than the rest of us.

    While there are exceptions I tend to find these people generally undermine the rest of us by allowing things specifically prohibited by school policies and appeasing poorly behaved pupils in the name of “engagement”. This makes managing pupil behaviour and expecting pupils to work and behavve more difficult.

    I also note that nobody has come up with a solution to the problem of monitoring what pupils are doing on their phones. Does it not bother these advocates of mobile phone use in lessons that they have no way of knowing what their pupils are actually doing with their phones?


    • This is actually a very good point. An Android phone (and I suspect the others but am not sure) can be set up to access school WiFi – and thus be protected by any scheme that the school sets up.

      However, it is 10 seconds work to turn wifi off (2 touches on the screen) and if you have Mobile Internet it will then use that instead. And that, of course, is completely open.

      I’m pretty sure an iPhone does the same thing and probably Windows Phone too.


  4. My comments are addressed to BigKid:

    I really disagree with the “smugness” referred to – teachers who do use tech are often the most generous when it comes to sharing and giving time to other colleagues, explaining over and over again how a tool/platform works and why it should be used and how it can be used with learners. There is no smugness there. There is understanding and generous giving of precious time.

    Yes, I do use a lot of tech my teaching. And yes, I allow mobile phones to be on the desks in my classrooms. And more – I allow my students to step outside of the classroom if they receive an urgent call.

    However, there is always a balance. My students learnt how to use their mobile phones in constructive ways. Their mobiles are on the desk, in silence mode and because I attach no negative stigma, they no longer spend time texting under their desks. The “forbidden” is no longer a taboo, hence the lack of interest.

    Additionally, my students are so engaged and focused on their classroom tasks, that they forget about texting on their mobiles.

    No smugness here. Just plain facts. Teachers need to wake up because tech is not going to go away just because some teachers constantly come up with problems rather than with solutions.

    And yes. A good educator is good with or without tech. That is the main difference.


    • “I really disagree with the “smugness” referred to – teachers who do use tech are often the most generous when it comes to sharing and giving time to other colleagues, explaining over and over again how a tool/platform works and why it should be used and how it can be used with learners. There is no smugness there. There is understanding and generous giving of precious time.”

      It is quite possible for someone to do this and then go and post on the internet afterwards in an icredibly smug fashion (as so many people posting in favour of mobile phones have done).
      I use a fair amount of technology myself. I have spent a lot of time explaining to others how to use various bits of tech and writing resources for my department. What I haven’t done is go on the internet and slag anybody off for not liking or not using the tech that I use. Nor have I acted like I am better than them because I use tech.

      “Yes, I do use a lot of tech my teaching. And yes, I allow mobile phones to be on the desks in my classrooms. And more – I allow my students to step outside of the classroom if they receive an urgent call.”

      Maybe that works for you in your school. If it does then I am genuinely happy for you. Personally I don’t see the point of allowing phones to be on desks and I would never allow students to leave the room to take a call unless there was some very compelling reason to do so.

      “However, there is always a balance. My students learnt how to use their mobile phones in constructive ways. Their mobiles are on the desk, in silence mode and because I attach no negative stigma, they no longer spend time texting under their desks. The “forbidden” is no longer a taboo, hence the lack of interest.”

      My students know how to use their phones in constructive ways. That isn’t the point. They know how to use pencils in a constructive way yet last time a supply teacher took my class all the pencils were snapped in half and thrown around the room. Are you suggesting that reinforcing the constructive uses for a pencil would have prevented this? I suspect that you do not face the kind of behaviour problems I have dealt with as a matter of routine for the last 14 years.

      “Additionally, my students are so engaged and focused on their classroom tasks, that they forget about texting on their mobiles.”

      Thank god your not being smug…What proportion of your pupils would you estimate roll in after lunch high as kites on their drug of choice with no interest in learning? How often in your average day are you sworn at or threatened? I suspect we work in very different establishments.

      “No smugness here. Just plain facts. Teachers need to wake up because tech is not going to go away just because some teachers constantly come up with problems rather than with solutions. ”

      you seem to think that smugness and facts are somehow mutually exclusive. you are mistaken. As you have ably demonstrated “facts” can be stated in an incredibly smug fashion. worst of all you don’t seem to have any grasp of just how smug you are…
      Personally I don’t care whether tech goes away or not. I don’t particularly need it. I see no benefit in using it in my lesson so I don’t. My pupils still get great results so I don’t see the problem

      “And yes. A good educator is good with or without tech. That is the main difference.”

      I would be curious to see what it would look like if you were TRYING to be smug…


      • @bigkid

        Obviously, as your nickname suggests, you have not matured either intellectually nor perhaps at other levels either.

        Not only did you mis-read my comments, but you are happy to live in a cave and keep your students locked up in a useless, ignorant world. That may be your choice.

        As Stephen Downes so well pointed out, in the past people believed that the world was flat. Fortunately, those people died out. Cave dwellers will eventually do the same.

        Fact? I pity your students who you keep trapped in a dark cave and life-less, boring classrooms.


        • @Ana Cristina

          If it wasn’t for the fact that our network keeps crashing I would have already posted supporting bigkid as your post came across to me also as very smug and I though bigkid was very considered in his/her reply.

          I am still of this view, although I am now wondering whether you come across as smug but are in fact simply naive and lacking in any understanding of the issues involved, in the nicest possible way.

          “Scenes from the battleground” is a place for educational professionals and others to come together and discuss exactly that, “the battleground”.

          You have now explained that you “teach” in higher education and it would seem that you teach in the UAE. As one who has taught in higher education in the UAE I can start to see where you are coming from. I would be interested to know where you have been teaching previously and if I offend unfairly I apologise as this is not my intention. I would say that the fact that you allow your students to use their mobiles and to leave the room to take important calls has no bearing whatsoever on the issues being discussed here and if you had made your situation clear at the outset I would probably not have given your comments another thought.

          The differences between UAE higher education and UK secondary are so great that I find it difficult to see why you would have posted as you dd at all.

          “As Stephen Downes so well pointed out, in the past people believed that the world was flat. Fortunately, those people died out. Cave dwellers will eventually do the same.

          Fact? I pity your students who you keep trapped in a dark cave and life-less, boring classrooms.”

          I feel that the fact that you believe that a classroom without mobile phones is a “dark cave” and a “lifeless boring classroom” says more about the standard of your understanding and analysis than it does about the professionalism of those that you seek to question here.

          I believe this issue is bringing out more muddled thinking than any other that OA has raised. On what basis and with what experience do you tell others here that they are poor teachers, HE in the UAE?


        • “Obviously, as your nickname suggests, you have not matured either intellectually nor perhaps at other levels either. ”

          So we can add condescending to the list of your personality flaws. I suspect this list will be quite long. On what evidence do you base this assessment of my character?

          “Not only did you mis-read my comments,”

          Then perhaps you should clarify your comments, express yourself more clearly in the first place or perhaps explain in what way you have been misunderstood.

          “but you are happy to live in a cave and keep your students locked up in a useless, ignorant world. That may be your choice.”

          Firstly I don’t live in a cave. I live in a world where pupils are not allowed to use their mobile phones in my lessons. The fact that you think the two are the same speaks volumes about you without saying anything about my lessons.

          Secondly I teach mathematics. Are you really suggesting that by teaching pupils mathematics without using their phones I am keeping them locked in a useless, ignorant world? I think I am giving them acces to skills and knowledge that are the keystone of our civilisation and the fact that they are not allowed to use their phones in my lesson to do so does not alter that one jot. Do you really think that teaching pupils to use mobile phones is more important than teaching maths?

          “As Stephen Downes so well pointed out, in the past people believed that the world was flat. Fortunately, those people died out. Cave dwellers will eventually do the same.”

          However the people who believed the world was flat were wrong. My belief that mobile phones in my lesson cause distraction without significantly improving learning is demonstrably true. Your analogy is fundamentally flawed. One aspect if your analogy is an undisputed question of fact. The other is very controversial.

          “Fact? I pity your students who you keep trapped in a dark cave and life-less, boring classrooms.”

          My pupils learn maths. Pupils of average ability when they arrived in year 7 could sit the exam now (2 years early) and get at least an A grade. Believe it or not being really good at a subject makes you likely to enjoy it even if you don’t use your phone.

          The fact that you cannot imagine a classroom without phones being an enjoyable, happy or lively place speaks volumes about your intellect, imagination and skills as a teacher.


        • “Additionally, my students are so engaged and focused on their classroom tasks, that they forget about texting on their mobiles.”

          Sorry Ana, but that does come across as incredibly smug.

          “Fact? I pity your students who you keep trapped in a dark cave and life-less, boring classrooms.”

          And I’m afraid questioning someone’s professionalism in that way is just going too far.

          Incidentally, your post didn’t enlighten us to the uses you actually put mobile phones to in your classes, apart from remaining silent on desks or allowing students to take urgent calls.


  5. did i read correctly- that a teacher lets her kids ‘take important calls?’.

    sorry, but thats incredible to me- quite incredible.

    not once in my career have i said to a class: ‘excuse me-gotta take this!’

    anyhoooo- my school tried a half measure ban- allowed in pockets turned off- didn’t work at all- caused all sorts of problems

    -kids recording lessons without permission
    – bullying/threats etc
    – on Facebook all the time
    – ringing in lessons and exams
    – texting mom cos they got detention – angry mom was at reception within the hour

    etc etc

    so we tried a fuller ban- they had to put them in their lockers turned off. we still have some kids defying it but its a million times better, The heads of years case loads have halved. can’t beleive we didn’t ban them sooner.

    as to usage in class- if they need info wait till a computer is free or surf at home?

    or maybe the teacher books the ict room- or maybe they can borrow the teacher’s desk pc for 1 min whilst they do a google search?

    the poverty of the arguments to allow their usage is embarrassing surely?


    • @rob

      If you are referring to me, yes, I do. First of all, you have NO idea about my teaching context; secondly, I teach in Higher Education where my students are not exactly “kids”. And yes, even if I did teach at secondary or primary level, I would not make mobile phones taboo.

      It does not work. It is much more constructive to show how mobile phones are a learning tool and to engage learners in tasks.

      If a teacher can not do that, then that individual has NO right to be in education.


      • what a remarkably arrogant attitude!

        1. my schools phone ban does work. It has literally changed our working day. Save for about 5 repeat offenders. the new enhanced ban has made for much more focussed and productive lessons.

        2. kids already know how their phones work and how to google and use You Tube thanks- you are with respect, not making the most compelling of arguments. And if you want those things from time to time, there are many other ways of doing them- without personal mobile phones.

        3. I would love to see you work your ‘magic’ in a tough uk comp- asking Terry to stop watching porn and for Tracey to stop face booking and to stop Ben from scoring his next drug deal.

        I often found that teachers who thought themselves as magnificent ‘communicators and engagers’ had to eat a pretty big slice of humble pie in such situations….


      • “If a teacher can not do that, then that individual has NO right to be in education.”

        Good grief.


      • “It does not work. It is much more constructive to show how mobile phones are a learning tool and to engage learners in tasks.”

        In some schools (mainly ones with pupils and parents who do not value education and for a variety of reasons face extreme behaviour problems) this demonstrably is not the case. To suggest it does not work when there is plenty of anecdotal evidence to suggest it does work is arrogant in the extreme.

        Pupils already know how phones CAN be a learning tool in these schools. If someone is not interested in learning or education or grades etc then what task are you going to give them then will be more engaging than facebook, bbm, youtube etc

        “If a teacher can not do that, then that individual has NO right to be in education.”

        Even if we accept your premise (which I don’t) it does not address the issue. I COULD do that. Pretty much any teacher COULD do that.

        The reasons I have already outlined mean that I have no wish to do so. The risks and disadvantages significantly outweigh the rewards in my school and in every school I have ever worked in.

        Anyone who cannot grasp the simple notion that not all schools and colleges are the same and that as a result of this things that will work in one institution will not work in another is probably too dense to be in education.


    • If my wife rings my mobile until I speak to her I have no idea whether it is to ask me to get some milk from the shop or if (say) she has been in a nasty car crash.

      How does the teacher know the call is “important” before answering it ?

      I presume we aren’t taking the pupils view of this “Oh, but Sharon said she’d ring to let me know what happened in EastEnders. It’s IMPORTANT !!!”


      • The point is that if something is truly an emergency a staff member from the school can just as easily inform the student or teacher. If I’m going to have bad news as an educator or student, I’d like to be able to go away from the classroom and as a teacher have someone there to cover. If my mother rings my school with bad news, they can get a SLT and someone I am close to come to my room to give news and take over. If the person has to speak to you so urgently that they need to call the school then it’s probably a better indicator of true emergency that your mobile ringing because few people treat calling your phone, even repeatedly, as constituting an emergency. That easily weeds out ‘get some milk’ (which could probably be a text or wait until the school day is finished, surely) from ‘your husband has been a bad accident’.


  6. As one high school student stated, “The day I needed to memorize the capital of Florida ended the day my phone knew the answer”

    The litany of similar anti-intellectual comments in the thread above masquerading as progressive thought makes me despair. So thanks for those. Rabid, pig-ignorant and stultifyingly ill-informed sums them up.

    You know the difference between the people in the pub who know the answer to the quiz questions, and those who have to google them? Yes, one lot are considerably brighter than the other. And even people who already know a fair bit are also capable of looking up things they don’t know, amazingly. And it’s nice to know things for their own sake . Don’t deny people the privilege.

    And as for that idiot above tweeting Daniel Willingham about just keeping your lessons engaging, well words fail me – although I have noticed that the truly stupid blithely waft through life completely oblivious to the fact, while leaving a trail of destruction behind them. I’m sure Mr Willingham will amend his research accordingly and credit the commentator with this startling insight in his next paper. Jesus, when did halfwits like that start getting the upper hand?

    This blog is clearly far too ‘knowledge-based’ to accommodate modern educational mores.


    • “As one high school student stated, “The day I needed to memorize the capital of Florida ended the day my phone knew the answer”

      kind of ignores the fact that education is built as a tower. To do further maths you don’t have to know your times tables, but if you have to use a calculator every time you do you will go very sloooooowly.


  7. “Additionally, my students are so engaged and focused on their classroom tasks, that they forget about texting on their mobiles.”

    Did someone really say this? Or am I in an alternative universe? How clusterfucknuttedly stupid beyond belief. Truly, deeply, stupid.


    • Not only did someone say that they said it in a post in which they claimed not to be smug.

      Staggering


  8. In every line of work, there is a small number of real talented geniuses, a large number of the more ordinary and a small number of total incompetents.

    Any idea about whether any sort of tech should be used must be based on its usefulness to the ordinary teachers. Saying that some tech will work for genius teachers is unhelpful – the genius teachers can probably enthuse their kids with a piece of slate!


    • It’s more IME teachers working in nice environments where they don’t have to worry about (say) tech being stolen by elder brothers to buy drugs. If you track the schools of people touting iPads/phones/whatever as utterly brilliant and accusing anyone disagreeing of being luddites, they are almost always in Grammar-type schools where the children do as their told – schools with 95% 5 A-Cs (see other thread).

      They never seem to think about schools with 5% 5A-Cs and some of them think (seemingly) the difference between the 5 and 95 is down to their fabulous school and teaching rather than the intake.


  9. [...] comments, such as the ones published here and here, are unacceptable. If one is involved in education, one has social, ethical and professional [...]


  10. From http://dreamweavelearn.wordpress.com/2012/06/18/learning-mobility/:

    “Were I student today at school (and please do note that I am in fact currently a student as well), I would be on my mobile device throughout boring lessons. Why would I even want to attend school if I was not learning how I wanted to, how I needed to and above all, not be respected as a 21st century learner?”

    A succinct and accurate summary of everything wrong with attitudes to education of a significant proportion of students. In the several years of having to deal with the issue, one fact stands out for me. I have never once in all that time had to remove a mobile ‘phone from my brightest and most hard-working students (not necessarily the same students, by the way).


    • “Were I student today at school (and please do note that I am in fact currently a student as well), I would be on my mobile device throughout boring lessons. Why would I even want to attend school if I was not learning how I wanted to, how I needed to and above all, not be respected as a 21st century learner?”

      So if you were a student at school today you wouldn’t be a very good one. There are 30 students in a class and with the intake we have it simply isn’t possible to teach all of them how they want to learn.

      Many pupils will say a lesson is boring. It’s a word that comes back through whole school pupil voice on a regular basis. When you ask pupils what they mean by “boring” you get the following top 10 reasons why lessons are boring (actual results of the last pupil voice around engagement):

      1) You have to do BARE work (or even sometimes BEAR work)
      2) You can’t chat with your mates
      3) You can’t listen to music
      4) You have to write BARE
      5) You can’t mess around with your mates
      6) The teachers make you listen to BARE lectures
      7) The teachers don’t let you go to the toilet or nothing
      8) You get BARE homework
      9) The teacher moans at you if you do something wrong
      10) (my personal favourite) if you do something stupid the teacher talks to you about your behaviour and it’s BARE LONG and it makes you feel stupid (as several pupils gave this exact answer when asked to describe what happens in a “boring” lesson I imagine it was not an individual effort.)

      Given the descriptions of a “boring” lesson I imagine many of your peer group would find many lessons boring and would be on their mobile phones with your blessing in our school if you were a student at our school today.

      There are very few people that NEED to learn in a particular way and I have never encountered a student who NEEDS to be using a mobile phone in order to learn.

      Could you define a 21st century learner?
      Could you explain what being respected as a 21st century learner look like?


      • Erm…Just for the avoidance of doubt, I assume you’re not directing those questions at me, bigkid. I agree with you…100%. I was merely quoting from the Dreaming Weaving Learning website. You’ll have to direct your questions there. My own views are to be found without the quotation marks above.


        • Rob Liddle-Having read the post on the Dreaming Weaving Learning website and the comments therein I decided that posting there would be much like bashing my head on a brick wall. I also thought that as whoever it was posted their views here I might respond here as there appears to be a greater range of views here and therefore a greater chance of discussion.

          I’m not expecting answers to the questions to be honest although I may post them there.

          Seems to me that those posting in favour of using mobile phones in lessons seem to struggle to answer questions for some reason.


          • I went back there and had another look, and found this little gem:

            “In regard to 10 year olds: I respect a 10 year old learner as much as a 20 year old learner. Their learning contexts may differ, yet the needs remain the same.”

            I’m not sure which is worse: believing a 10-year-old’s learning needs are the same as a 20-year-old’s, or that a 20-year-old’s are the same as a 10-year-old’s. The so-called debate there about mobiles is instructive, if you can stomach it.


          • Have you considered the possibility that it’s satire ?


          • It’s a darn good one.


  11. This isn’t even a discussion about phones any more. It is a discussion about trusting your students. The teachers with (mostly) trustworthy students are shouting “You mean you don’t trust your students?” Meanwhile, the teachers with (mostly) untrustworthy students are shouting “You mean you actually trust your students?”

    Take a pill, everyone.


    • It never was just about mobiles though, was it? I think oldandrew made it quite clear in his original post that this was actually about the shortcomings of progressive education. Also, what kind of pill do you suggest we all take?


      • A “Chill Pill”. I believe this is a colloquial expression used to denote calming down.

        It’s just my little way of suggesting, without pointing my finger at anyone in particular, that there is a little more heat than light in this discussion. That’s all.


  12. I’ve read up on a few articles about this and although there are uses for mobiles in lesson (their main advantage seems to be that they are cheaper than computers and most pupils have one) – they do nothing new. I don’t think they will improve education. They will change it though.

    However, it will become commonplace and whether we like it or not OFSTED will soon be downgrading teachers for not putting the use of mobile phones into their lesson plans.

    Calculators, computers, and whiteboards have not improved actual standards in education over the past forty years. Sorry if that sounds a bit reactionary, as I do acknowledge that all of these things can help teachers and students. The fact is that there is always a body of knowledge to be taught and while there are many new ways of presenting that information the basic understanding of the subject will not be learned unless it is well taught by the teacher,( who should definitely be standing at the front) and paid attention to by the pupils. It’s hard enough to get their full attention even if you’re the best teacher in the world, but adding personal text messages and sudden phone calls into the mix won’t help.

    I think this is a real opportunity to say no, and release children at least for some time in their day, from this worrying addiction to, and dependency on phones. No foolproof way of stopping the pupils from sending unpleasant texts during a lesson or looking at inappropriate websites (whether just unrelated to the lesson or actual porn etc).has yet been put forward, only the implication that if you can’t control this it is because of your inadequacies as a teacher.

    My children’s school once subjected us all to a rather patronising power point presentation about the fantastic possibilities of using phones in schools. It was peppered with unattributed quotes justifying the idea. The irony was that this school was failing to have a consistent or effective method of teaching children to read and many were slipping through the net, unable to read properly by the time they were in year 5. This is a school which had embraced brain gym too. My point here is that educationalists can become so embroiled in worrying about the latest fad in teaching methods that they lose sight of what is important and campaign passionately for something which may not make much difference at all, and may even be damaging.

    In addition, the ’21st century learners’ argument doesn’t really cut it, as they already very quickly pick up new skills outside school and don’t need someone to show them how to use their phones.

    A lot of time is wasted in lessons when the pupils are sent to the computer suite to complete a project. The sheer influx of information which they receive when they type in their topic bamboozles them and they often cut and paste huge wads of information without even reading it. This is the problem – what then have they actually learned?. It would be exactly the same were children to use their phones. They have no idea of how to pull out the pertinent points and discard other information because that is a skill in itself. On top of which from a practical viewpoint the screens are much smaller.

    A good thing to teach children at school would be that they shouldn’t be so dependent on their phones, rather than encouraging them to use them more and more because they need to think for themselves. What’s wrong with showing them how to enjoy a bit of space in their lives?

    By the by,has anyone mentioned the money that phone companies will be making from this in developing their new generally pointless and duplicatory education apps? .

    .
    .


    • Ermmm, hasn’t Wilshaw already said he wants to see NO mobile phones in class?


      • Thanks for that. Hope he sticks to it!


      • Merely “in class” or “in school/college”?


        • During the school day phones either collected up or, more practically, having a ‘turned-off’ rule with support from senior management.


  13. “It might well be less of a problem in one-to-one tuition or small group teaching where a teacher can directly oversee students more easily.”

    You’re right, it might …….. but,

    One-to-one, face-to-face, with one particular tertiary student, no-one else in the room. There I am, going through the assignment, explaining what’s needed, how to re-write the very few but seriously substandard sentences (incomprehensible might be more accurate) but getting not much eye contact or real conversational interaction.

    Then I turned a book/folder around and pushed it across the table to ‘show what I mean’ when it dislodged the phone. Now!! I discover that it wasn’t just sitting there as I’d thought. She’d been exchanging messages every. single. time. I lowered my eyes to the various documents *we* were dealing with. Never once told me that she was expecting ‘important’ messages or anything else about trying to do serious study and other conversation at the same time.

    How much she had failed to learn in school previously and in lectures, tutorials currently was pretty well explained. In the end, the very pretty money I was being paid for this just wasn’t enough. I gave up on her.


  14. A general point:
    It’s unjustified for teachers to criticise others who disallow phones in classrooms. For a teacher to say that another is hindering their students’ education because they perhaps use more traditional methods is purely unfair. These methods, implemented well, by a good teacher, work. So, allow your students to use phones etc if you like, but please let fellow teachers be!


  15. Mobile phones have their uses for daily life. Children need to learn that there are other ways to learn – they need no instruction on the benefits of a mobile phone. They are addicted and need phone-free time.



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