Cell Phones in the Classroom

Before wading into this debate, I confess to having a cell phone that I’m glad to have and use daily. That being said, the use of cell phones in the classroom by students, without permission, drives me bananas! I guess I’m just old school, but I feel like there is a time and a place. I fail to see how one can really focus on classroom content when they are otherwise engaged, but maybe I’m just not that good at multitasking.

This week, Spark’s blog is also about the use of cell phones in class. The difference in this case is that the subject is addressed from a student’s perspective, which is why it’s interesting that Becca Cadue, the blog’s author, refers to cell phones as “our other appendage.” The statistics Cadue was able to dig up are nothing short of staggering: students spending ten hours a day on their cell phones, for example. To read more, you can find the post here: http://sparkslc.ca/students-and-their-cellphones/

Another article on the subject can be found on the Faculty Focus blog: “Cell Phones in the Classroom: What’s Your Policy?”. In this post the author shares the results of one study in which researchers established a reduction in grades based on cell phone usage in the classroom. Furthermore, students apparently underestimate how often they actually use their phones. But what was most interesting to me is the assertion that other students are distracted by another individual’s cell phone usage when in the classroom.

There are plenty of other articles on this topic. For example, one interesting article from 2013 explores the link between cell phone usage and social anxiety. You can find it here: http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2015/01/the-socially-anxious-generation/384458/

I have yet to find a truly effective solution to the problem. Let me know if you have any suggestions!

The Importance of Shop Class

bike picture for blog

Toward the end of December, I was busy looking into professional development opportunities that would be of interest to those teaching in the trades. In my conversations with others, I was encouraged to read an essay by Matthew B. Crawford entitled “Shop Class as Soulcraft.” The essay was later expanded into a book: Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work.

The essay is so interesting, and Crawford makes a compelling argument for the value inherent in being able to make something by yourself, not to mention the joy we get from being able to say, “I made that!”. The essay is a great read, even if you don’t teach in the trades. You can find a copy of it online here:

http://www.thenewatlantis.com/doclib/20090526_tna13crawford2009.pdf