Coding 2 Learn

Education and Technology Ramblings with a little Politics for good measure.

Banning mobiles is not enough...

Michael Wilshaw, the new inquisitor-general over at Ofsted ( NOBODY expects Ofsted! Our chief weapon is surprise...surprise and fear...fear and surprise.... Our two weapons are fear and surprise...and ruthless efficiency.... Our three weapons are fear, surprise, and ruthless efficiency...and an almost fanatical devotion to Michael Gove.) has highlighted that mobile phones should be banned in schools to assists teachers in managing disruptive pupils.

While I commend Wilshaw for his no-nonsense approach to behaviour management, I really don't think he goes far enough. Some teachers, particularly ICT teachers, have publicly stated that banning mobile devices removes a potentially invaluable resource from the classroom, and that we should be encouraging students to use their devices to access VLEs, to make audio notes in lessons, to work collaboratively with other students. What poppycock.

In my school, while banning mobile phones has improved behaviour a little, these devices only contributed to a small percentage of poor behaviour. There are other equally worrying factors that can turn a placid classroom into a scene from Lord of the Flies in seconds. We need to ban more than just mobile phones.

  1. Pocket Calculators. Yes, they're great for doing sums, but shouldn't we be teaching these students mental arithmetic anyway. Calculators are a horrendous distraction, and their potential for ruining lessons was recently highlighted to me by a colleague in the maths department. She was forced to leave her lesson, in floods of tears, after some malicious young wretch had written the number 55378008 on his calculator and then turned it upside down. Be warned, if you're going to try this yourself then it is most definitely NSFW.

  2. Paper and Pens. I yearn for the days when students used to have to write on slates with sticks of chalk. Paper and pens are a constant source of disruption and should be banned immediately. Students use these infernal devices to write notes to each other, often of a malicious nature, and they are a major cause of bullying. Some students will doodle incessantly while I am talking, not really paying attention to my series of lessons on correct paragraphing in Microsoft Word, and their doodles can often be horrendously graphic depictions of male genitalia. Worse yet, some particularly imaginative students have devised ways of fashioning potentially dangerous projectile darts from these sheets of paper, that could easily "have someone's eye out".

  3. Two-pence coins. Students should be spot checked for these at the school gates and all two-pence coins should be confiscated immediately. In some extreme cases, it might be necessary to ban all denominations of coins. The miscreants at my school have devised a clever little distraction they call penny football. This involves flicking the coin across a table while the teacher's back is turned in an attempt to get it as close to the edge as possible. the coin is then launched into the air, often flying across the classroom, with the serious potential of "having someone's eye out".

  4. Digits. I don't think any school can be a truly productive environment while we allow students to brazenly walk the corridors with the full compliment of eight fingers and two thumbs. Not only have students developed devious and secretive communication methods using these devices, such as the extension of their middle-finger from a closed fist, but these things can be a horrendous distraction. Drumming at tables or incessant tapping has recently begun to infect my classroom, and I really don't see a way of preventing this short of amputation. One colleague in the PE department also explained how dangerous digits can be. He had allowed the students to have their fingers out to assist in his series of lessons on throwing and catching, only to find that the students were occasionally poking each other with their index fingers. He told me how worried he was that they would "have someone's eye out".

  5. Genitalia. We've all been there. Puberty is a difficult time for students. Hormones are a major factor in classroom disruption causing erratic and often aggressive behaviour. Furthermore, as students develop, their sexual urges can become so great that they would actually prefer to talk to the opposite sex rather than listen to my series of lessons on correct paragraphing in Microsoft Word. While it is difficult to ban genitalia, I would recommend that all primary school children are chemically castrated to prevent future disruption to secondary school lessons. In my own subject (ICT and Computing) I can't think of a single example of where chemical castration has adversely affected the development of academic progress.

  6. The prefrontal cortex. Student's are devious, manipulative and calculating. They're constantly developing new ways to misbehave and disrupt lessons. By banning the connections between the prefrontal cortex and the rest of their brain, behaviour in lessons would dramatically improve. The leucotomy is a simple enough procedure, that could be carried out the moment a student reaches secondary school age. With a classroom filled with lobotomised students, I would finally be able to deliver my series of lessons on correct paragraphing in Microsoft Word without a single interruption.

  7. Children. We've all thought it. Remember your last training day? The corridors quiet, the classrooms peaceful. Wouldn't it be great if every day was like that? Banning students from schools would, in one fell swoop, eradicate poor behaviour forever. In one progressive school in Denmark, banning students from school has seen the number of external exclusions drop an impressive 100%. Additionally, with zero students on-roll, attendance is at +-infinity as is their A*-C percentages. You just can't argue with statistics like that.

So there we have it. My answer to improving behaviour in schools. Come on Wilshaw, don't be soft. Let's all get on that slippery slope and see where it takes us.