Collecting cell phones looks harder than it is

For the longest time, where cell phones in the classroom were concerned, I was paralyzed. I wanted to take them away, but I didn’t think I could or should.

My students were adults, what business did I have taking their phones?

And supposing I did collect phones, what would I do with them? Where would I put them? I teach college, not K-12; I don’t have my own classroom where I can hang cell-phone pockets and the like.

Even worse, what if someone refused to give me his/her phone? Wouldn’t everyone else refuse, too?

Then what?

Basically, I had a mental block.

I learned later that lots of teachers have mental blocks on the subject.

Worse yet, teacher-ed programs may actually foster fear of cell-phone collecting. The first-year high school teacher I mentioned, the one who became demoralized facing a sea of students staring at their phones, was emphatically told by one of her ed-school professors that it is not possible to collect cell phones at the start of class.

I can’t remember the precise reasoning now, mostly because it didn’t make any sense at the time. It was something to do with sociodemographics and status anxiety. If you took away cell phones, the ed-school professor said, students would see each other’s phones and they would know who had the expensive phones and who had the cheap ones. Then the kids with the cheap phones would feel shamed.

Which is just completely wrong not to mention devoid of logic. If the teacher doesn’t collect phones, then everyone’s got their cell phone out, and the kids with the cheap phones can see that the other kids have expensive phones, et voilà. Shame.

Cell-phone shame, assuming cell-phone shame is a thing, is a feature of kids having cell phones, not of teachers collecting cell phones. (This is as good a time as any to re-up my position that, speaking as a taxpayer, I would be willing to pay taxes to support future teachers not to attend ed school.)

Anyway, back to my point.

My point is that it’s entirely possible to collect cell phones, and it’s easy, too.

More t/k

And see:
Cell phone agonistes

12 thoughts on “Collecting cell phones looks harder than it is

  1. I don’t think teaching people to teach is inherently a bad idea. There are lots of things that can usefully be said on the subject. (I’ve suggested a class in how to teach painting classes for a convention at which I’m an instructor.)

    It’s just that Ed schools do it so badly.

    But at least they take forever to finish talking, so you can get a decent nap.

    Liked by 1 person

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