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Students, teachers consider phone usage in class

Ayra Ansari
Some teachers argue that cellphones distract students during class, making it challenging for students to learn. According to English Teacher Christopher Moore, following the English department cellphone policy of placing phones elsewhere allowed for deeper learning.

Social Studies Teacher Lanting Xu allows students to possess their cellphones in her classroom. However, Xu said she has noticed students focus less when they have their cellphones in sight.

“Students would come in and sit down and take out their laptops and take out their phone,” Xu said. “It’s really about constant buzzing on the phone for them to check who’s calling, who’s texting.”

Contrastingly, English Teacher Christopher Moore said he does not allow students to keep their cellphones with them, as stated by a rule on device usage in the classroom.

“It is actually an English department policy that we have these shoe racks in the room,” Moore said. “We ask students to put their phones in the cupboard every class.”

However, Moore said he does not see the difference between keeping phones away in bags and putting them in the designated racks as long as it minimizes distraction.

“If someone were to put their phone in their bag, that would be just the same thing to me,” Moore said. “When we remove them from our pockets and places where they distract us, we can actually all be a lot more present in the work of the moment and have richer discussions and deeper learning.”

Toiyo Diya (’27) said she believes cellphone usage is critical in the classroom.

“Students shouldn’t use cellphones in class unless necessary,” Toiyo said. “If the teacher believes that the students have behaved well enough to be left alone or trusted in any situation, then they should keep their phones with them.”

Additionally, Diya said cellphones may even help students be more engaged in the lesson rather than cause distractions.

“Of course, it depends on the class and person,” Diya said. “[Cellphones] can be helpful when looking at stuff online, such as videos or graphs.”

Math Teacher Debra Kelly said she requires her students to keep their phones in the back of the classroom.

“[Teachers] were given the results of a study which showed that if you don’t have your phone on you, or even next to you in a bag, when you’re wanting focus elsewhere, to learn, that it was much more efficient,” Kelly said. “There seems to be a link between our brains and phones.”

However, Kelly said she didn’t always follow this policy, since before learning about the study she allowed students to keep their cellphones on a desk.

“I had [cellphones] upside down on a desk because, again, I think there’s a lot of time that in schools, [teachers] can help you make decisions that are best for you and your learning,” Kelly said.

On the other hand, Diya said using cellphones can actually help students be more organized in their day-to-day lives as she knows “many people in the school who use their phone to write down their homework or plan their day.”

Xu said the need for phones at all times could tie back to a physiological need for the presence of a comforting object.

“One can argue that having that phone next to them is like having their childhood toy on their bed,” Xu said. “Maybe psychologically, it provides some kind of comfort. That is not something I could understand, but I guess for someone who is reliant on the phone, it might provide some physiological benefit.”

Ultimately, Xu said the school should have a consistent phone management policy.

“Individual teachers can implement certain rules for their own class management,” Xu said. “By and large, the High School or school-wide, we need to have a consistent policy so that we are not holding individual teachers accountable for managing the phone issue.”

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About the Contributor
Ayra Ansari, Reporter
Ayra Ansari ('27) is a Reporter for The Standard in Multimedia Journalism.

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