Some of you may remember when smoking was permitted just about anywhere. My high school had an on-campus smoking area — the “butt lounge”. As an undergrad, I remember smoking a cigarette in the hallway outside the analytical chemistry lab.1 One could smoke on subway platforms, in offices, in people's homes and cars. A professor of behavioural psychology2 told us that — at least in 1979 — it was easier to kick a heroin habit than to quit smoking.
That makes sense. One could smoke just about anywhere; heroin use needed to be more discreet.
The synergistic effect of open use coupled with the nicotine-dopamine thing created a recipe for serious addiction.
Fast forward . . .
Forget vaping. Mobile phones are the new cigarettes.
It is acceptable to use a mobile phone pretty much anywhere — and I mean anywhere. I’ve seen people on their phones in church, for Pete’s sake.3
And like nicotine, receiving a text message or “notification” releases dopamine.
Many teenagers . . . okay . . . millennials . . . okay . . . people . . . do not have the self-control to disengage themselves from Mother-Tech.
We need to fight this addiction.
To this end, the government of Ontario wants to ban mobile phones in classrooms during instructional time.4
Part of me says “woo-hoo!!” Another part of me says, “What took you so long?”
In my classroom, mobile phones are placed on the lab bench as students enter.
I don’t even allow computers during lessons.5
Like, I’m gonna let a kid “take notes” on his computer while I’m explaining hydrogen bonding: First off, note-taking by typing6 is ineffective, especially in chemistry. Further, we will be distracted by the clickety-clack of the keys — and by whatever websites are open.
One more thing — I can’t see the students’ computer screens.
I’m not against technology. C’mon . . . I use a white board. I rely on PowerPoint. I’m all for tablet-style devices where students write with a stylus.
Mobile phones have no place in the instructional environment — they are distractions. FULL STOP. NO DISCUSSION.
The addiction is too much. How can a chemistry lesson compete with Instagram or Twitter or Snapchat?
Tell you what: Since I instituted the “put your phone on the lab bench when you enter” policy, also known as “lead us not into temptation”, not one — not a single, solitary student — EVER — has beefed me on this.
Students see this as freedom. I have — at least temporarily — cut the techno-umbilical cord. I can hear them after class, “Why didn’t you return my text?” . . . “Jansen took my phone.”
They blame me. Problem solved.
At home, however, mobile phones can be huge time-stealers. On curriculum evening I tell parents, “Have your son stash his phone in another room when he studies.”
But many parents loath to do this . . . they seem afraid.
“Who pays for the phone?”
“Who pays for the internet?”
“No further questions.”
- so many memories . . .
- Dr F Klajner
- bible of the new millennium: . . . Jesus said to his disciples, “Follow me . . . on Twitter”.
- exceptions: accommodations (IEPs); occasional collection of lab data in a spreadsheet
- “keyboarding” to those under 35