It's one of this week's hot-button issues as Canadian teachers asked school boards and government for a ban on the mobile gadgets.
Ever since students started bringing phones into schools, there's been a lot of disapproving noise about them. And it's understandable: besides being a distraction, the text messaging feature could be used for cheating. But I'm willing to give students the benefit of the doubt on this one. They're honest enough to not cheat, right? Right?
But things have turned ugly recently.
A few months ago a teacher (and I forget in which province this happened) quit his job after being humiliated by students playing pranks on him, filming the stunts with their cellphone cameras and then posting the clips to video sites like YouTube. That's terrible and displays a lack of respect toward authority figures - unheard of among adolescents. Those kids clearly have no empathy for others.
But what about safety? More than once a crisis has hit a school - like the terrible Dawson College shootings last fall - and cellphones kept parents in touch with their kids during the chaos. The phone-cams also provided police with some valuable footage of what actually happened.
And then we get situations like this one, where a student films a teacher's violent phone-smashing outburst. The irony here is that the teacher might not have exploded had the cellphone not been in the classroom. And yet, we couldn't have seen it all without another student filming it on another cellphone camera, which might actually prove the point teachers are complaining about. (And based on how this was filmed, it also looks like the students might have set up their prof.)
This likely wouldn't be an issue if more kids were mature enough to handle it. But how likely is that? They are kids, after all, and let's face it: teen + cellphone (or any other gadget for that matter) = major distraction, and in some instances a tool for bullying. So where does that leave us? Would a cellphone ban in the classroom help resolve the situation? Or are these measures unnecessary?