Op/Ed 9/27/10

Some question new electronic device policy

By Angelina Folchi

One new LHS regulation states that cell phones, iPods and other electronics are to remain in the off position and out of sight in the school building. From 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., any electronic device seen will be confiscated and held in the office, the only exception being outside the school at lunch. This new policy was unexpected but has not gone unnoticed.

Principal Marla Stock said the decision was hers, but she was prodded by some teachers. Stock’s goal is to improve verbal communication in the classrooms, and that’s almost impossible when students are immersed in their devices. When they aren’t allowed, communication will become more common.

Stock said that the issue was discussed last year, but the staff decided to leave it up to the teachers. “When one or more teachers allow students to use the headphones, students fight harder to use them in the other classes as well.” In the end, the devices just became much too big of an issue.

A few years ago this policy wouldn’t have had as much an impact as it has now. Teens have become so dependent on technology that it’s difficult for them to imagine seven hours without any means of communication with friends or family. However, this electronics craze isn’t just the students’ fault; it’s how society has become. Many adults can’t go a day without checking email or Facebook, so how can kids be expected to do the same?

This prohibition is causing students to  deceive their teachers. Teachers can be sure that texting is happening in classrooms. As the year progresses, some kids may get bold enough to even use their headphones and music players.

Stock said, “Our experience at LHS is that cell phones have not contributed in any way (yet) to our school goals.” Although this is true, it isn’t necessarily the same for music players and headphones. In classes such as art or study skills, these devices help teachers keep the noise level down. It’s true that communication has increased, but that’s not always a good thing.

Laura Calabrese said, “In my past art classes, iPods have been an effective means to help students focus on their own work, eliminating distracting classroom noises and providing a great deal of individual enjoyment.” Without the diversion, she said, her students have become very rowdy. They don’t have anything to do except talk while they’re working on their art projects.

Headphones also help some students concentrate on their work. Online classes have become common this year, and it’s hard for some students to focus on what’s happening on the computer screen in front of them while the others are talking in groups. In this case, barring music hinders learning, presenting an example of why the decision needs to be at teacher discretion.

Stock is holding her ground, though, saying that most of the teachers are pleased with the new rule. “When you consider that our goal is educating our students, I believe the decision was the right one.”


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