Saturday, September 11, 2010

Take Your Cell Phones Out Please. Is this a trick to get us into trouble?



Bless our students' hearts. Even with full knowledge that their first project is to investigate the factors that impact cell phone use policies in schools and then to construct their own policy proposals, our students were still hesitant and suspicious when I announced that I wanted them to take out their phones. Their reaction highlights the less flattering aspects of our educational system.


It only makes sense to have a show and tell of the device under discussion and to use them in our investigations, yet our students are so well trained through fear of reprisal, so used to not having access to their own possessions/comforts in school, so quick to distrust, so ready to expect that lessons do not reflect the components of their lives, that they can't resist questioning whether  "real world projects" are nothing more than simulations. We have told them countless times that for this project we will provide the skills and opportunity for them to attempt real change, but they are doubtful.

After the students shared the various features of their phones, one student asked if the policy request and any change would apply only to the PBL kids - the kids in our Project Based Learning program. When I replied that no, the request would be for the entire school he looked truly astonished. It is so beyond our students' realm of reality to believe they can create any real change or have any real control over their lives in school or to have any choice, that they can barely comprehend the opportunity we are providing. If nothing they propose is approved, (we have made it clear that we cannot promise the outcome only the opportunity)  I do fear they will respond with slumped shoulders and a "see, I told you so," attitude.  It will be difficult for me to convince them of the benefits of a democratic society and the opportunities it can provide if all they get is the same set of dictated rules. Teaching and learning for real world consequences is risky but I think that teaching and learning for anything less is far riskier.

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