Mixed reaction to cellphone ban in Ontario classrooms
The provincial government is set to ban cell phones from classrooms – and many students in Windsor-Essex are not impressed.
“I feel that our cell phones can be used as a tool if used in the right way,” says Brooke Demers, a student at St. Thomas of Villanova Catholic High School.
Education Minister Lisa Thompson said in a statement Tuesday that a formal announcement is coming soon.
"Ontario's students need to be able to focus on their learning -- not their cellphones," she wrote. "By banning cellphone use that distracts from learning, we are helping students to focus on acquiring the foundational skills they need like reading, writing and math."
The two biggest school boards in the region, the Greater Essex County District School Board and the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board, each allow cell phones in classrooms.
“We’ve always maintained that a student using their own personal devices is good for learning as long as it’s not distracting them from their learning and under the guidance of the teacher or staff member in that room,” says John Howitt, superintendent of education at GECDSB.
WECDSB spokesperson Stephen Fields tells CTV Windsor, the planned cell phone ban and continued educational use aren’t necessarily in conflict.
“They’re good technology and can be used for educational purposes,” says Fields. “I think the minister’s statement that came out today reflected that.”
Exceptions would be made for when teachers want to use cellphones as part of their lesson, for medical reasons and students with special needs.
“I think it’s a good idea,” says Lynn Hutchinson, a local teacher in Windsor. “I think the teacher should be in control of the technology and so the teacher should be bringing the technology to the classroom.”
While some students are skeptical about the ban, others are less concerned.
“I don’t want to bring my electronics to school because, if it gets stolen or if it breaks, I don’t want to be responsible for that,” says Matteo Daher.
The Tory government conducted education consultations last year, and while input on the sex-education curriculum dominated headlines, feedback was also gathered on a potential classroom cellphone ban. About 97 per cent of respondents favoured some sort of restriction on phones in class.
A 2015 London School of Economics and Political Science paper found that "student performance in high stakes exams significantly increases" with a ban on mobile phones. The improvements were largely seen among the students who were normally the lowest achieving.
"This suggests that restricting mobile phone use can be a low-cost policy to reduce educational inequalities," the study found.
— with files from Allison Jones / The Canadian Press