In most traditional public schools, be it Canada, America, or wherever else, cell phones, iPods, iPads, and other handheld electronic devices are still not allowed in the regular classroom (although the rumbles of a possible change in attitude are starting). As a teacher, I have taken phones and or iPods from students many times. And it’s not that I don’t agree with getting rid of possible distractions (nothing is more annoying than a student who is playing Angry Birds while you’re trying to teach them how to write a decent essay).
But I can’t help but think sometimes that it shouldn’t be that way. For me this comes up when I think about my desires for an iPad2.
I’m a musician as well as a music teacher. I desperately covet the iPad2 to make my gigs easier. Just think: all of my sheet music, in PDF image format, available in crystal clear quality, I can mark on the screen with finger drawing, and turn pages with the flick of a finger as opposed to trying to sort through 6 pages of Mahler’s Third Symphony before my eight bars of rest finish. It would make so many situations in my music endeavours easier.
Why should my students be prevented from that? Yes, yes, distractions, apps, Internet time-wasting, blah, blah, blah. Unfortunately, the old world of pencil/pen and paper just doesn’t relate to some children anymore. And I also know how expensive it would be to make sure that all students were fairly equipped.
However, just imagine – a class of 25, with each student having the access to the world wide web (through a school firewall, naturally), and able to look up anything they need at a moment’s notice to contribute to the discussion. All of a sudden, my job is no longer “teach this series of information and concepts to pass this one, two, three, or four tests” but “hey, these kids can find out anything they want to… go teach them to want to learn”. Really, that’s our job even now, but in many places it’s still disguised under the necessity to get students ‘up to standard’ and you have to have a very good reason why X child is not at that hypothetical standard.
Ah, the sweet daydreams.
Plus, no more calls of “Teacher, I don’t have a pencil!”