A ‘phone hotel’ hangs in a Spectrum Community School classroom. Ethan Badr photo

Student Voice: Phones in school a tool for learning or weapon of mass distraction?

Spectrum student questions role of smart phones in school

By Ethan Badr

Smart phones have quickly become a major presence in high schools, middle schools and even elementary.

“Ten years ago one person had a cell phone, now pretty much everyone has one,” says Spectrum English teacher Tom Gordon.

Students are often distracted by their devices in class but can we really call it an addiction?

Well yes, there is actually a lot of research that proves cell phones have the potential to be just as addictive as drugs and alcohol. The only difference is, you don’t have to wait until you’re 19 to start using a cell phone.

“We need a cell phone rehab.” Gordon added.

It’s not rehab, but one local teacher has created what are now being called “cell phone hotels.”

These “hotels” hang on the wall of each classroom and have enough pockets for each student’s cell phone. Teachers can choose to implement them at their own discretion. Students who feel they won’t be able to restrain themselves during class time can check their phones into the hotel until the end of class.

“For me, it really comes down to two things: I want to minimize distractions for my students, and I want students to realize that it is possible for them to be without their phones for 80 minutes,” said one Spectrum teacher. “It’s not a perfect system, but it’s a start.”

The hotels, although fairly new, have been showing results when teachers decide to use them.

However, some teachers are taking a different approach. English 12 teacher Chris Lubinich says, “Instead of removing them completely it’s my job to teach students to use them responsibly.”

Lubinich uses the application Google Classroom to streamline student learning directly through their smartphones. Assignments are uploaded to the digital classroom, completed by students on their phones or computers then handed in online.

“Like anything in this world cellphones can be used for good or bad and the potential problems with cell phone usage should not be bigger than the education system,” says Lubinich.

We are still at the start of this new age of technology and we have to decide, not just in schools, whether we are going to embrace it or restrict it.

Ethan Badr is a Grade 12 student at Spectrum Community School

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