We've seen various schools or school teachers/administrators try to ban
bringing mobile devices into schools, and the whole concept seems backwards. It's perfectly reasonable to have rules within the classroom where students are told not to use
the phones during class time, but a full ban makes little sense. In fact, many parents have protested such rules, as they feel safer when their kids have mobile phones. However, it looks like some politicians in Pennsylvania are going even further. Dan Callahan, a 6th grade teacher in Pennsylvania wrote in to let us know that a state legislator has introduced legislation for a blanket ban on students having portable electronic devices in schools
The possession by students of telephone paging devices, commonly referred to as beepers, cellular telephones and portable electronic devices that record or play audio or video material shall be prohibited on school grounds, at school sponsored activities and on buses or other vehicles provided by the school district.
Callahan points out how ridiculous this is, referring to it as the Luddite Bill (though, in fairness, it would just be one of many such bills). He notes that his school does already have a ban on phones (which he's helped enforce), but notes that there should be flexibility -- especially for the school to decide. He also notes that mobile devices may present a great learning opportunity for smart teachers who learn to make use of them:
A few years ago, I wouldn't have thought this a big deal, but to take away the option of teachers allowing cell phone use in their classrooms to me now seems ludicrous. Right now we stand on the brink of a major shift in computing resources available to students in their pockets, with phones as powerful as a computer from only a few years ago.... Honestly, if you think we really want you to take away more teaching options from us, you're sorely mistaken.
And this isn't far out thinking either. The NY Times this weekend ran an article about the idea of smart phones as teaching tools
, creating the ability to bring impressive computing power into the classroom at a much lower price point. But, apparently, some politicians in Pennsylvania would rather keep such things out of the classroom entirely.