When sitting outside or in a mall to people-watch in Beijing, one might notice that many have bent necks and a cell phone close to their face. Five to six years ago, this was not the case. Affordable devices have brought new challenges to Chinese culture, and many expats have adopted this cell phone craze norm. Some readers have confessed to us WeChat is a strong allure. But should schools allow for this cultural norm to occur on campus? Is there a case for teachers using gadgets for better learning or do they cause more distraction in class than they should? Canadian International School, Beijing students answer, “Should schools allow students to use gadgets in the classroom?”
Louis L., Grade 11
This is my seventh year at CISB and currently I’m the President of Student Council. In the past, we had surveys in our school targeting students in my age group to investigate whether or not the school should allow gadgets such as cell phones during school time. I believe this is a question that relates to many issues, but most importantly revolves around student social life and their own safety. Therefore in my opinion, schools should allow students to use gadgets in class.
First, the most important reason is student safety. I still have the newspaper that my father bought home with one line in particular that caught my attention, “13 students were killed in the US and 1 survived in a school attack due to a cell phone.” This tragedy happened in 1999, the year I was born where two men walked into a school with two machine guns and killed these students in the classroom. However one student, the only survivor that day, was able to dial 911 and call the police while under the table. He was the only one that had a cell phone with him that day. From this case, we can see how a cell phone can be the key to saving a life. Just in case of emergency, students should be allowed by their school to bring a cell phone with them.
Second, we are in a technology era where a large proportion of us do a variety of things based on our gadgets, whether phones, tablets, or laptops. I believe students should have freedom to talk with their friends. I’d like to mention that this is not only about letting students have a normal social life; I’m saying that students shouldn’t become an outsider of society due to education. Take our school (CISB) as example, although we are not often allowed to use cell phones in class, we are still allowed to use them during lunch time for about one hour out of seven hours of school everyday. Due to the fact that we have the opportunity to check our social media, we remain close together despite having different classes and different grade levels.
Allowing students to use their cell phones also maintains a “Global Village” in our school. CISB has less than 1,000 students and teachers, but we all come from more than 60 different countries around the globe. It’s really only cell phones that bring us together as we are often consumed with study while in school, as we should be.
Nicole T., Grade 9
In the 21st century, our lives are consumed by technology, whether it’s the media or electronic devices. As a student in an international school, technology has become a critical part of my education and daily routine. Laptops and computers are now a must-have to be a part of the global experience an international school provides. However, allowing gadgets such as phones and mp3s in classrooms is still debatable. Personally, I believe CISB should allow students to use gadgets in the classroom but there should be limitation and rules.
Small electronics like phones are classified as gadgets. Phones are an essential part of our daily lives, not just for effective communications but also to wind down. For me, phones are more convenient when it comes to communication compared to a laptop because it’s much easier to pull out wherever I go. A lot of clubs at CISB utilizes WeChat to communicate, in school and out. Sometimes there might be an update in the middle of the day, and without my phone I would not have been able to know. Having a phone in school also comes in handy when we need to inform our parents of certain situations (getting sick, staying at school late, etc). It’s reassuring for parents to know we have our phones with us when we are in school because they know we’ll be able to contact them in any case of emergency. But of course, there is also a negative effect of having gadgets in the classroom.
The undeniable truth is our phones are one of our generation’s greatest distractions. Imagine hearing your phone buzzing in the middle of the class, that urge of picking it up and checking that notification will kick in. Not allowing any gadgets in the classroom is rather extreme because what that means is for us to lose one of our main communication tools. However, it is necessary to establish a few rules regarding how we should conduct ourselves. The rules will help us gain a better understanding as to how we should be using the phone during school time, and the rules can also control the amount of time we spend on our phone.
Though having our phones with us during school is convenient, we also have the responsibility to know appropriate times to use them to ensure a positive learning environment for all students. Communication between friends, schoolmates, and parents is very important but it should not be at the expense of learning.
This article originally appeared on pages 32-33 of the October 2016 Issue of beijingkids magazine. Click here for your free online copy. To find out how you can obtain a hard copy, contact email@example.com.
PHOTOS: COURTESY OF CISB