Another Texting Tale

Today, my son was fortunate to spend the entire school day out in a park on the river. It was a gorgeous day, perfect weather. They spent the entire day searching for snakes, frogs, bugs. They identified plants. They climbed around in the woods. I was jealous!

The bus back to school was late. That’s not the problem. The problem was that when I texted him to find out where he was (because he wasn’t at our usual meeting spot…) I didn’t hear back. Two texts, nothing back.

Long story short: I finally found out the bus was late, and they finally showed up. When we were driving away, he apologized for not texting me telling me where they were. He was afraid to text me back because he thought he’d get in trouble.

Whoa. I was furious. His school has a blanket no phones policy. If a teacher sees a phone, they can take it. Since he was sitting by some teachers on the bus, he was too scared of getting in trouble to text me back.

This is crazy. Guess what the kids do? Most of them have phones, of course. They go into the bathroom to text. Great. That’s a super healthy way of teaching kids appropriate behavior.

I popped off another email to the principal explaining my position. I was clear that by banning the phones, adults are not taking responsibility for teaching students responsible use of phones and communication. It is essential that teachers and adults teach kids appropriate use of phones and devices, and you can’t do that when they are forbidden.

I’m sure it won’t make a bit of difference, and I’ll get that same old line back…. we can’t allow phones because it’s not equitable because not everyone has them. The kids will cheat. The kids might text in class. The kids will bully each other.

Get real. Kids already cheat – without phones. Kids bully each other now. And yes, they might text in class. That’s exactly why it is our responsibility – -the adults — to teach them how to use these tools appropriately.

I’ll keep being a broken record. Someday……

Factory Model Debunked

In education technology circles, the argument about needing to change the factory model of schools is so common as to seem cliche. 

However, I love seeing articles about this in mainstream media! Here’s a commentary from The Atlantic Monthly, “How to Break Free of our 19-th Century Factory Model Education System.” 

Take this quote, for example:

 But we continue to assume the factory-model classroom and its rigid bell schedules, credit requirements, age-based grade levels, and physical specifications when we talk about school reform.

I certainly used to feel all that stuff was important. I excelled in that factory model of school. I mastered how to master school. Kids needed to learn how to conform!

Then I had kids. One of the first things my husband and I commented on when we dropped our daughter at kindergarten was the insanity of expecting all 5 year olds to be at the same place. We commented on what a crazy idea it was to put 25 5-year-olds in a room and expect them to pay attention and to sit down.It’s still a crazy idea. 

At work, we interact with people of all ages. Kids don’t all learn at the same pace. Kids don’t all learn the same way. Kids have varying needs for social interaction. Yet our current model of school expects everyone to be the same. (Read Lois Lowry’s The Giver. The whole premise is “sameness.” Kind of like school.)

Here’s hoping that some of this conversation in mainstream media leads to more changes.