Without sounding like a cranky 80 year old, when *I* was in school, there was no such thing as a mobile phone! Yes, yes, back in the day when we walked to school, uphill both ways. In the snow. Barefoot.
Ok, the walking to school uphill in the snow part is crap, but there was no such thing as a mobile phone, iPods, Facebook and all the rest of today’s modern technology. I realise that society has to “move with the times” but I was recently shocked to learn that a friend’s son, who just started high school, was being distracted in class by several students listening to music on their phones/mp3 players during class time. The only thing more shocking was the Principal and Vice Principals reaction to my friend’s complaint.
She was essentially told that school isn’t about education, it’s about learning to multi-task, learning to focus when there are distractions, learning to communicate and work through problems (hence all the in-class discussion). She was also told that children go home and do their homework with music in the background, so they are allowed to have the music in class, also. She was told that the kids use their phones as calculators, that parents do not like to buy their kids calculators because they have them on their phone. She was told that we are in 2013, and as such, she needed to “move with the times.”
Now, I’m not suggesting we should be back in the dark ages where kids got the cane for not sitting in their designated seat (true story – ask my mum!). I’m not even saying these items should be banned completely from school. I know iPads can be great for learning. I know that kids need to learn how to use social media, the benefits and the dangers of it and the social responsibility that comes with being so connected by it. But I think to allow them to listen to music during class time, to distract other kids who may not yet have the capability of focusing through such distractions, and to be able to be that disconnected from the teacher and classmates is quite frankly just taking the piss.
To get some kind of perspective on this issue, my friend called two other local schools – one public, one private. Neither school allowed kids to have their phones in class for music or any other such purpose. The private school rules were they were to be kept in lockers. The public school allowed them in their bags, on silent, for emergencies only. Maybe I am old fashioned. Maybe I am over reacting, but I’ll be marking this on my list of things to enquire about when sending Nick to high school (even though that’s almost 8 years away – God by then they might not be going to school, maybe it will all be online?!?!).
And while I’m speaking of school, I’ll take a bit of a detour here to tell you what I found in Nick’s classroom today. The school has a fairly thorough discipline policy/procedure. So at the front of the classroom is a hanging sign that looks something like this:
All the kids names are on a clothes peg, and are pegged onto the appropriate….level? I scanned for Nick’s name and there it was. Attached to the “Warning” sign. As we left school, he told me it was because he broke a pencil. It’s unclear as to how he broke it, as he told me a couple of different stories. He told me it was an “accident” but he’s certainly been pushing the boundaries at home recently, it wouldn’t surprise me if he’s now trying to see how far he can push at school.
I sat through the rest of the parent/teacher meeting (not one-on-one, it was a group meeting) barely paying attention, because I was trying to think how I could approach this, with both Nick and the teacher. As a parent who stressed out over sending her son to school in the first place, today has done absolutely nothing for settling my concerns. Maybe he isn’t ready? Maybe he’s too young? Maybe it’s too much for him? Where did I go wrong? We’ve always tried to be stern/firm with him when it comes to discipline, but here he is, acting out? Or is the teacher picking on him? Does she already think he’s the problem child so that’s the label he’ll get for the whole year? All these questions and doubts swirling through my head are enough to drive me insane.
So my questions to you this week – what do you think about kids having phones in schools? And how do you think I should approach both Nick and his teacher about this discipline chart? Am I over reacting?
And of course I’m linking up with Essentially Jess for IBOT because you guys give the best advice around!