Teacher Robert Bickers is famous for two things: blaring Led Zeppelin before class and having handcrafted “phone jails.”
The “phone jails” are wooden boxes set in the middle of each table and are equipped with motion sensored speakers glued to the lid of each box. Anytime someone tries to sneak their phone out to check if their crush finally responded to their Snapchat asking for homework answers, a chorus of roosters squawking and doorbells ringing is activated.
Students groan as they are forced to place their devices into the wooden boxes for the next hour (and God forbid forget to put their phone on Do not Disturb before placing it in the box.)
Although some teachers are more strict about students using phones in class than others, administration does not currently have a policy that each teacher must follow regarding phone use. However, this may change next year as administrators hope to enact a stricter phone use policy.
The details for the new policy are still up in the air, but principal Dr. Scott Sherman says he hopes that it will cut down phone usage and incline teachers to use Macbooks as the main form of technology in the classroom, since phones distract students from listening to teachers.
This proposed policy is misguided because high school is the best time to teach ourselves time management before it really counts. In a few years — or months, for seniors — there will be no phone policy. Therefore, it is in the students’ best interests to learn responsible phone usage now.
Students constantly complain about how most of the classes in high school are unnecessary and have too much homework (when are we going to need to recite a list of 40 polyatomics?).
But, the point of this workload is to teach ourselves how to manage our time responsibly before getting to college where we will focus on our careers. A college professor teaching a freshman lecture hall of 100 students isn’t going to stop his presentation on 18th Century literature to ask a student who they are texting. Instead, students need to practice self control by not reaching for their phones every time they feel it vibrate.
The administration says that phones are too much of a distraction and serve no place in the classroom. They believe that if we are given the freedom to use our phones, we will abuse that privilege and not take notes, leading to dropping grades. But technology is the future and phone usage will not just disappear once you go to college or get a job, so we need to discipline ourselves now while we still have adults to assist us.
Also, if phone usage is a recurring problem with many students in certain classes, the teacher may take this as a sign that the lesson can be more interactive with hands-on activities to keep students engaged.
Not everyone is going to be responsible, especially people who prioritize their Snap streaks over writing Spanish past-tense conjugations over and over, but having the temptation builds restraint.
There are some instances where collecting phones and Apple Watch can be important — such as during tests to prevent cheating. But during lectures and lessons, students can (and should) control how they spend their time.
Students should be trusted to be responsible for their own grades in high school. The teacher isn’t the one to blame if a student has taken eight tries to pass the unit circle mastery and isn’t taking steps to further their understanding. Students should be trusted to stop checking Twitter in class if their grades begin to drop because of the distraction.
When you get a job in the future, your boss will not collect your phone before going to your desk. If you stop paying attention to clients because you are distracted, you’ll be fired. We need to use high school as a time to teach ourselves self-discipline before our paychecks are on the line.