Why schools being allowed to search kids for iPods is stupid

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Asp-Z
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08 Aug 2010, 1:31 pm

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The government thinks phones and MP3 Players are too dangerous to be allowed in schools. Bill Thompson disagrees.

Later this week I'll be at the Latitude Festival in Suffolk, one of the nicest and easy-going events around, enjoying Florence and the Machine, Tom Jones, Robin Ince and Luke Wright in the wonderful setting of Henham Hall.

I'm looking forward to wandering from stage to stage, to the variety of musical styles, the cabaret, the poetry and of course the multi-coloured sheep that grace the fields around.

As with most big events these days there'll be a bag search for everyone entering the site, looking for items like glass bottles - which break too easily - knives and illegal drugs.

But it seems I should also expect to lose some other items from my bag, like my iPod and my mobile phone.

After all, if the new Schools Minister considers them to be too dangerous to be allowed in school they should probably be banned everywhere.

This new policy was announced on 6 July in a written statement to Parliament from Schools Minister Nick Gibb, whose responsibilities include "Behaviour and attendance" and "bullying", though that presumably refers to reducing bullying rather than being too bossy with his civil servants.

He wants to extend the powers that teachers currently have to search pupils for knives or other weapons, and has told schools that from September they will be allowed to search for alcohol, controlled drugs, and stolen property.

Troublemakers

However he also plans to add to the list of items which are considered so undesirable or dangerous that students must be forced to surrender their civil liberties and allow teachers to search them.

From the autumn this will include fireworks, legal highs - ie completely legal chemicals - pornography, cigarettes and "personal electronic devices such as mobile phones, MP3 players and cameras".

Press coverage of the proposed new powers has been overwhelmingly positive, with The Daily Mail announcing that "Teachers will be given the power to confiscate phones and iPods - and anything else they view as disruptive" and noting that "ministers believe that current confiscation powers are too vague and weak, leaving staff and pupils at the mercy of classroom troublemakers".

I can see why keeping fireworks off school premises is a good idea, but it is hard to justify the indignity of a personal search, with all that it entails for the relationship between a student and the staff, to search for legal items that the school just doesn't like.

Phones and MP3 players aren't actually considered dangerous, of course.

Improving behaviour

If you want to throw something at a fellow student or a teacher then a mobile phone is too expensive and not particularly aerodynamic, so you're better off getting your hands on a cricket ball or a javelin, both designed for the purpose and generally approved of on school premises.

And the searches are unlikely to be effective, as phones are quite easy to hide.

This is really just a form of discipline theatre, exactly like the ineffective, expensive and demeaning security theatre that has infected airports, where shoes and belts are removed to turn us into shuffling barefoot drones at the service of scanning staff and we must all consent to microwave scanning that presents our naked images to those charged with keeping us safe.

It will do nothing to improve behaviour in schools where teachers are not respected by their students.

However, it could have a negative impact in other ways, as it enforces the idea that schools are places where "technology" is something out there, a word processor or spreadsheet on a desktop PC to be used for a particular purpose, instead of something that permeates all aspects of our daily lives and is becoming increasingly important.

Back in 2008 I wrote about the innovative ways mobiles were being used in teaching despite the ban on their use in class, and claimed that "the current restrictions are absurd, and will not last much longer'"

It seems I was wrong, and that we're instead going to see alienated and disaffected students being searched for their mobiles instead of being encouraged to find positive uses for the technology that is already in their pocket.

Digital Champion Martha Lane Fox might like to reflect that her campaign to get millions of people online in time for the 2012 Olympics is likely to rely on mobile access to government services, and that teaching the current generation of schoolchildren that mobile phones are the equivalent of fireworks and pornography could be giving them the wrong message.

Unless this is a cunning plan to make the latest generation of smartphones as cool as the other contraband, of course. But I rather doubt that was the intention.


From the BBC



jmnixon95
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08 Aug 2010, 2:28 pm

That is stupid. I wish they were allowed during tests and things. I can see why they shouldn't be allowed when the teacher is lecturing, but come on.



Roxas_XIII
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08 Aug 2010, 2:40 pm

jmnixon95 wrote:
That is stupid. I wish they were allowed during tests and things. I can see why they shouldn't be allowed when the teacher is lecturing, but come on.


They could be used to cheat. I've head of people converting notes to MP3 files and listening during the test. I don't think they should be used in class, but confiscating them based on mere possession is wrong. It's one thing if it's causing a disruption, but during lunch and break when no actual class is being held, teachers shouldn't be able to confiscate anything that doesn't pose a legitimate threat to student safety.

Unfortunately, the problems with schools nowadays is that most school districts don't recognize the constitutional rights of students. Just because you are a minor doesn't mean you aren't a citizen. I'm glad I'm not back in high school.


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anarchybovine
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08 Aug 2010, 3:14 pm

At a high school in a city near where I live, they don't allow cell phones or MP3 players. If a student is caught using them, the devices will be conficated. It's f***ing ridiculous. At my school, they allow students to use their cell phones between classes and during lunch. For MP3 player use in class, it's up to the teacher. Some allow them during tests and worktime (mostly math and social studies teachers) others don't allow them flat-out (mostly English and foreign language teachers).

I believe being searched for MP3 players and cell phones is unconstitutional. What if it was an emergency and the student needed to contact their parents? If they weren't allowed to have cell phones, then they're kinda screwed. MP3 players aren't "distracting". Many people, like myself, don't get distacted by listening to music.


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Willard
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08 Aug 2010, 4:03 pm

Roxas_XIII wrote:
They could be used to cheat.


Mine certainly could (160G iPod Classic) - and not just with MP3s. You can load still images and video as well, so there's no limit to the means one would have at one's disposal to cheat. You wouldn't even need the earbuds in, just the screen within line of sight.



Seanmw
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08 Aug 2010, 8:40 pm

my high school didn't allow any kind of electronic really.
cell, phones, mp3 players, handheld game systems, etc.

we weren't even allowed to have those joke pens that shock you, because some smartasses kept giving them to teachers and pretty soon they were banned as well :lol:


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08 Aug 2010, 10:22 pm

My bus driver tried to consfensgate my comfort stuffed animals that I was allowed to have because they were written into my IEP. He stopped the bus for over an hour trying to persuade me into hading them over. When I got home extremely late and in tears my dad was ready to drive to the driver's house (he didn't live far from us) and shove his fist down the man's throat. The bus driver had a real problem with anyone who was just a tad diffrent. Evil had a face and EVERYONE hated that man.


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08 Aug 2010, 11:34 pm

My school didn't really have those rules but teachers did. They had rules like no headphones and Gameboys. That meant you can bring in your old Game Gear or other hand held gaming systems and bring in your boom box and play the music. :lol:

Of course I full well knew the teachers meant "no music and video games" so I never used them in their class. I just fell asleep instead due to nothing to keep me busy.



Seanmw
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08 Aug 2010, 11:47 pm

League_Girl wrote:
My school didn't really have those rules but teachers did. They had rules like no headphones and Gameboys. That meant you can bring in your old Game Gear or other hand held gaming systems and bring in your boom box and play the music. :lol:

Of course I full well knew the teachers meant "no music and video games" so I never used them in their class. I just fell asleep instead due to nothing to keep me busy.


i remember when they banned poke'mon cards :doh:


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Dox47
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09 Aug 2010, 12:06 am

Seanmw wrote:
i remember when they banned poke'mon cards :doh:


In my day it was Magic: The Gathering cards that they banned, ostensibly because if people where playing for ante it was "gambling"... :roll:

Needless to say, the ban wasn't terribly effective and everyone just traded them during lunch our, if anything the game was simply too long and cumbersome to play at school.


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Arminius
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09 Aug 2010, 12:07 am

The thudding you hear is the sound of me beating my head against the wall. Technological litteracy should be encouraged.



CockneyRebel
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09 Aug 2010, 12:53 am

iPods should be allowed, durring tests and school work.


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Asp-Z
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09 Aug 2010, 4:54 am

Here's something else, BTW: though the school didn't allow it, my English teacher let people listen to music anyway, though he said if we get caught, it's our problem. I had a laptop I needed for my work, so I just loaded some music onto that, plugged my headphones in, and got on with it.

Guess what? That class, despite having a few troublesome kids in it, was one of the best behaved ones I went to.



Wuffles
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09 Aug 2010, 11:54 am

This was in college, but it could just as easily be highschool.

I was teaching class when I saw a female student halfway down the room looking shaken and staring at something a row ahead of her. I walked down the room and watched it on my way back. Two male students were watching a downloaded video of a live beheading in iraq. In class. On an iPod. So, no, I don't allow them in class.

As regards cheating in exams, it is standard practice to have all electronic devices, ipods, cellphones, ultrasuperamazing watches etc, put out of sight in a bag for the duration.

I teach computer literacy among other things. I'm in favor of this technology, but it is open to abuse in the classroom.

The key is to find BALANCE (note: politicians don't always do this, they tend to find 'publicity' first)



Asp-Z
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09 Aug 2010, 11:56 am

Wuffles wrote:
This was in college, but it could just as easily be highschool.

I was teaching class when I saw a female student halfway down the room looking shaken and staring at something a row ahead of her. I walked down the room and watched it on my way back. Two male students were watching a downloaded video of a live beheading in iraq. In class. On an iPod. So, no, I don't allow them in class.


Well you can also use a pen to stab someone, so how's about you ban those in your class too? :roll:

Quote:
As regards cheating in exams, it is standard practice to have all electronic devices, ipods, cellphones, ultrasuperamazing watches etc, put out of sight in a bag for the duration.

I teach computer literacy among other things. I'm in favor of this technology, but it is open to abuse in the classroom.

The key is to find BALANCE (note: politicians don't always do this, they tend to find 'publicity' first)


I do agree they should be banned when it comes to exams, but not in the class.



Arminius
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09 Aug 2010, 4:04 pm

Exactly. I understand not allowing them during tests, but there is no reason a student should not be able to sit in a math class doing a work sheet with his or her ipod. I had an English teacher last year who understood that letting us listen to music was not hurting anything and made boring tasks more pleasant. We listened to MP3 players and plugged headphones into computers. Nothing bad happened.