Friday, July 23, 2004

cellphones in schools

If I remember correctly, the use of cellphones in schools was banned by the Department of Education several years ago during the time of then Secretary, Bro. Andrew Gonzales, FSC. This was brought about by the numerous complaints the Department of Education received from parents and teachers who claimed, among others, that the gadget disturbs the class and hence the learning process.  However, this directive seems to have no teeth at all.  Unlike the Tamagochi which was earlier banned for the same reasons,  cellphones even proliferated within school grounds.  You can see students as young as the elementary level holding the device and indulging in texting messages or calling friends and members of their family. This is the reason why I just smiled when I read the move to ban cellphones in classrooms to prevent gambling.  This was covered in Sassy’s blog. 

It's not very practical to ban cellphones for the simple reason that it has now become a necessity.  I believe that the most important reason for letting the cellphones on campus is that parents can easily get in touch with their children through their units.  Whereas before when parents picking up their children would have to roam the whole campus just to find their children,  they’re just a few numbers away today. By and large, together with the computer, the cellphone is an advancement in technology which the children of today should be accustomed to.  We don't want to let them sit idly by as the world moves on to greater heights.    
In fairness to the Department’s directive, the use of cellphones had already been controlled. Most schools, if not all, has completely forbidden its use inside the classrooms.  In my school alone, cellphones are to be used only before the morning routine and after dismissal time.  

But as you know, the more rules are created, the more chances are there for students to violate.  One is the issue of theft.  A number of students have lost their phones.   It amazes me how some parents would just simply buy them another one instead of reprimanding them for not taking care of their belongings.  Maybe that’s one of the perks of having too much money. I don’t know. 

The more interesting thing for me, though, is very challenging.  From the time I started in this office, (two months) there had been cases of confiscated cellphones brought to my table by teachers. It would have not been a problem if the child really violated the rule.  However, there were instances when a cellphone would ring in class, and because the teacher does not know whose it is, would ask all students to take out their phones.  He/She then confiscates those whose phones are switched on. I’ve been told that this was the practice eversince cellphones became a fad.   

I am not comfortable with this practice for several reasons.  First of all, it is like hunting game where you aim your gun to the air and fire hoping you can get a duck!  More often than not, you don’t hit a duck.  The way I see it, the teacher only penalizes more innocent people than going for the culprit alone.  It is true that the Handbook states that all cellphones shall be switched off once classes start but how will the teacher know if it was in silent mode had he/she not compelled the student to take out his/her phone?  It’s like forcing the student to commit a mistake.  I can understand the logic of showing toughness in class in order to gain control but I am also concerned about fairness and justice.    What if during the time the phone was in the hands of the teacher, or in my office and the phone was stolen, then what?  Shall the school replace it?  Most of the students’ phones are not the ordinary ones.  These are expensive and I only earn a pittance.


baguiogirl said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
iskolar111 said...

rolly, is it true even the magbabalot has a cell phone? The last time I visited the Phil. was in 1989. Please educate me.

BatJay said...

hmmm... that's a tough call. pun intended. the challenge i guess is to make class as exciting as possible so that the students would really mind if some cell phone rings in class.

you're right, it's hard to enforce a "no cell phone" to school because these buggers are so small. mapapagusapan naman siguro ano - man to man: put your phones on silent mode while were inside class. pag ayaw pa rin, pag usapan sa PTA.

paano ba rito sa singapore. teka lang ha, matanong ang opismeyt kong parent. ok... sabi niya, bawal daw sa singapore schools ang cell phones. pag nahuli raw ay confiscate. pag repeat violation, ipapatawag ang parents. pero if you look at the students here - majority ay may cell phones. wala rin. di kayang i-enforce ang usage.

rolly said...

hey, what happened to your post, baguio girl? I've read our post in my email, though. Thanks.

Iskolar111, I have not seen a magbabalut for quite sometime now. They don't go inside our subdivision, but, yes, practically everybody has a cellphone here. I won't be surprised to see a balut vendor carrying one, although I don't think it would be a good idea. Sometimes, they go inside dark alleys :-) Thanks for coming.

Batjay, I think we have a similar policy then. When a student violates the cellphone regulation the first time, it is confiscated and can retrieve it after dismissal. Should said student violates it again, then any of the parent has to get it. Thanks for your input.

celia kusinera said...

I'm more concerned with the health implications in kids of cell phone use (or mobile phones here). Afterall microwaves ang ine-emit ng cellphones, so parang napi-prito ang brains natin kapag sobrang gamit, hindi ba? Eh pano na ang mga bata na mas vulnerable keysa adults in terms of physical health? I'm really concerned with this so much so that I only allow my kids to use one when they're going out occassionally with friends and certainly not at school where it is banned in classes here in UK. Here is an article from the BBC:

best regards,
celia kusinera

p.s. ang hirap mag post dito nag karoon tuloy ako ng blogsite ng di oras! hahaha!

baguiogirl said...

tito rolly,

nasaktan nga ako na nawala comment ko...hehehe, kiddin' aside, alam ko may problema noong nagpost ako kasi may error message na nag-appear pagkatapos. anyhow sabi ko nga, siguro values ang dapat ituro sa mga bata..cell phone etiquette nga..marami akong nababasa sa internet na tingin ko, it's about time that we adapt to the new and high tech world without compromising our values..dito sa amin (10mins from Grouse Mtn and Capilano Suspension--familiar ba?hihihi) kids are not allowed to bring any toys to school, paano pa kaya ang cell phone?? The parents of course understand the value so they talaga ang kailangan for all (teachers, parents and students). Ang aking mga chikiting madalas mag-uwi ng mga lessons learned so ako rin natututo sa kanila because of constant education sa kanila ng school over values..kabaliktarann siempre ng nakikita mo pag nasa labas na sila..but at least di mo na sila responsibility kasi out of your jurisdiction mo na di ba? Sabi ko nga with freedom, comes responsiblity.

Anonymous said...

got mycomment in my blog.

Dr. Emer said...

Siguro ang dapat talagang maituro disiplina sa paggamit ng cell phone: kung kailan puede at kung kailan hindi puede. Dapat ngayon na nila matutunan iyan para pag matanda na sila na tulad natin, alam na nila. Alam ko, easier said than done. Pero whatever means, dapat talaga maituro natin.

Tungkol naman sa health implications ng cellphone usage: While studies have repeatedly mentioned that there is NO established association between any disease entity and the radiowave emissions of cellphones, I strongly believe na meron. That's why I seldom use my cellphones. Puro text lang ako and I take calls na talagang importante lang. I would not like any cellphone to get close to my head. At ang rule ko: "Please don't call me, I'll call you." =)

baguiogirl said...

You're right Dr. Emer, easier said than done. I think hindi masyadong uso ang texting dito where I come from kasi nga we get paid by the other words, your boss is expecting you to come up with the hour's worth of wage he is paying you kaya hala magbanat ka ng buto mo. At saka sino naman ang may panahong mag text kung karamihan eh me double job para makaraos sa buhay?. Besides ang long distance dito eh 21 cents a minute or Php 9 in Philippine monetary value, eh di I'd rather call at mas marami pa akong masasabi in 1 minute. And kada send ng text dito is worth 10 cents plus (14.5 in taxes), ang hirap mo pang mag-pipipindot.

I think in the Philippines, the meaning of owing a cellular phone for neccesity has lost it's meaning. It has become an avenue for has attracted pick pocketers..thieves..(although mas sophisticated dito because they use them here to steal your credit card numbers and personal identification). But what I mean is, ang elementary, hindi basta-basta magkakaroon because of the costs involve.

Dito, the responsibility of owning a cell phone means a lot(not only in monetary terms)..monthly maintenance fee, airtime charges for outgoing and incoming calls, long distance charges if out of range and taxes on top of these charges so hindi basta-basta ka nagkakaroon.

TinTin said...

(aka pinayhekmi)

Thanks for visiting my site and being kind enough to leave feedback!

As for the cellphones ban, its ridiculous to impose a blanket ban but people often try to administer a bandaid instead of trying to get to the root of the problem.

OH, and as far as the teachers who take away the cellphones if they're on, I agree with it. But I would keep it in class, have the student sign a paper that they're cell phone is being confiscated for the duratino of the class and that it is in a locked drawer somewhere. And then check off on the paper w/ initials once its time to give it back out.

Anonymous said...

We hear so much about poverty in the Philippines and yet how can one afford a simple cellphone which according to some sources are no lower than PhP4,000? To send a joke for Php1? Ah what a way to spend a hard earned money down to the drain.

bayibhyap said...


You seem to have the talent for picking the most relevant topics in the field of education and schools for discussion. And you sound almost exactly like my wife, a senior teacher, who talks to me every evening about her trials and tribulations in school! Some of the posts you have chosen are the very same ones she's been talking about. Talk of the universality of school problems!

Cellphones are an item of progress and are here to stay, whether we like them or nor. That's why banning them is definitely not the answer. A general principle would be regulating their use. This will mean that we recognise the usefulness of cellphones but would not like them to intrude into our lives to impede our activities when we don't want them to, in this case, while teaching is in progress.


bayibhyap said...

I believe even the children of teachers carry cellphones. Being able to communicate with our loved ones immediately when we need to is one of the best things that has ever happened.

rolly has brought us a very relevant point. Cellphones are expensive. If they are lost while in the custody of a teacher, who is to be blamed? I don't think teachers need this extra burden.

Perhaps the teacher should just spend ten seconds each morning he enters class telling the students to switch their cellphones to silent mode before lessons begin. After all, this happens in cinemas before each show begins.

rolly said...

Hello Celia,

Welcome to my blog. Yes, I've read the possible effects of cellphones before. I, myself, don't use it often. Just text my children and friends. Afterall, mahal tumawag kaya okay lang. :-)

Actually, you didn't need to. Just click on anonymous and just sign the message like I do when it's hard posting a comment. Believe me, kahit kaming members nahihirapan. But come to think about it, since nandito ka na rin lang, why not start your own blog. It's neat!
Thanks for coming over.

Ah Baguio girl, I'm glad you're back. I wonder what happened to your first response. "Grouse mountain" - is that in Vancouver, Canada? I think I've been there. Even saw a black bear grazing while on our way back. Although I usually stayed in Richmond, my host always takes me to Vancouver. "With freedom comes responsibility" Yes, so true. I've always told my students about this. Thanks for coming back.

hey Cathy, saw your comment in your blog. Thanks.

Doc Emer: Nabasa ko na rin yung possible effects ng cellphones and I think I should believe there is. Buti na lang walang implications sa health ang texting no? For a doctor, mahirap sigurong masunod yung "Don't call me, I'll call you" policy mo, ano? Hmmm, when i was younger, doctors would even come for house visits. Do you remember that? PAg may sakit ako non, a doctor would come to the house. I guess imposible na ngayon yun.

Hi Tintin, welcome. Your "putting a bandaid" metaphor is very apt. Yes, it's not a cure. Yes, that's what we do with confiscated cellphones. Still, my concern is confiscating someone's phone simply because another cellphone sounded and the teacher doesn't know which. Medyo unfair, in my opinion. But it seems nobody's picking on that one yet. So, I guess, there must be nothing wrong there. Thanks for dropping by, too.

hey anonymous: Yes, in spite of the poverty, people still store money to buy the phone. Maybe that makes them feel good. A status symbol, perhaps. Again, it's not uncommon to see squatters whose shanties can barely be used for sleeping and yet you see a tv antennae. If you're a Filipino, you would know what I mean. Thanks for the response.

Anonymous said...

I recognize the importance of owning a cell phone but can you picture these scenarios? (note: their phone rings while they are all in the middle of doing what they're doing

1. )A surgeon currently doing an operation 2.)a priest running a mass 3.)a judge sitting on a murder case

Isn't it like being in a classroom? Yes, it is useful looking for your kids rather than go around the playground looking for your kids when they're dismissed but as a parent you're supposed to know what time to call, right? Also, if it is an emergency, shouldn't the school know first before your child? So it's a matter of discipline, really!

rolly said...

Hi anonymous,

Funny you should include a surgeon. HAving a new HMO, I saw a doctor for the first time for my diabetes who just couldn't do without his phone. It kept ringing and ringing and he answered it all the time while I was in consultation. 'course he apologized for it but it was sure very annoying. Never went back to him.

Yes, it would be very unprofessional for the people you mentioned. You're also correct about the discipline part.

You must not be a parent yet. I was talking about a parent getting in time for the pick-up but the children are nowhere to be found. Chances are they're playing God knows where with other kids. Any parent who picks up his/her child would know what I'm talking about

Thanks for the response.

rolly said...

Hi anonymous,

Funny you should include a surgeon. HAving a new HMO, I saw a doctor for the first time for my diabetes who just couldn't do without his phone. It kept ringing and ringing and he answered it all the time while I was in consultation. 'course he apologized for it but it was sure very annoying. Never went back to him.

Yes, it would be very unprofessional for the people you mentioned. You're also correct about the discipline part.

You must not be a parent yet. I was talking about a parent getting in time for the pick-up but the children are nowhere to be found. Chances are they're playing God knows where with other kids. Any parent who picks up his/her child would know what I'm talking about

Thanks for the response.

pepsi said...

hello sir rolly. i'm a student of yours (indirectly). you're probably the second teacher i know who interacts with the internet. the other one is sir patino.

anyway, i agree with your views on the cellphone "situation" (sorry, i have no other way to call it) not because I own a cellphone and fear that it gets confiscated but because my friends suffer from the same lack of justice. as you said it's like a random duck hunt. but there's a clarification on that too. the teachers only use this technique once no one from the class admits to being the culprit, for one of two reasons: 1) they're scared because they might be reprimanded (especially when the teacher is known to be very strict), or 2) they are simply not aware that it is their own phone that rang (this happened one time; the ring was an internal alarm). so it's not always all the time the teacher has to resort to the "duck hunt" method.

anyway, all in all sir, i enjoy reading your blog. it's sort of enlightening. that's all.

rolly said...

Hi Pepsi,

Please don't get me wrong. I see you're still a student of ours. Aklthough I am having doubts as to the logic of confiscating everyone's phones, by our standards, this is still common practice and though I might be having second thoughts about it, it is still the regulation. Cellphones should be turned off during class hours. Whatever the teacher employs to ensure that the rule is followed, I will be forced to uphold. Your teachers mean well. A cellphone ringing in the middle of the class is disrescpectful and unethical because it disrupts the learning process. To say categorically that there is an injustice would be a mistake. Maybe I committed that in my entry, so i say, mea culpa. Thanks for visiting. You're always welcome to come back.

Would it be too much to as if you identify yourself to me in school? :-)

Jet said...

I think the idea should be to teach the children to follow rules, not because of the threat of punishment, but in consideration of courtesy. I haven't been in a movie theater recently in the Phils. but here in SG, people do turn off their cellphones.

Why can it be done in a movie house and not in a classroom?

As for the teacher who confiscated the cellphones... did he/she do that because the students committed an offense against the rules, or an offense against him/her, the teacher? See, sometimes indignance could cloud our judgment. Doesn't a first offense warrant a warning any longer?

Yaps "The Yaps" Estagle said...

hi sir! astig yung blog ninyo. di ko alam na kilala mo pala si sassy...

about cellphones: sometimes teachers display their phones... how about that? or maybe they just teach foreign language...

rolly said...

Hi jet,

Very good observation. Yes, I have been telling myself, if i am going to instill discipline, it should not be accompanied by gigil. Nasisira diskarte e.

Yaps, hmm, I don't know who you are but you must be a graduate. What you're saying is something that happened when the rules on the cellphone is not that clear yet. We follow the rules strictly now. Believe me.:-)

Yaps "The Yaps" Estagle said...

sir... si estagle to...

Anonymous said...

well, a total ban enforced as a controlled use (use allowed only before morning routine and after dismissal) is better than no regulatory practice at all.

besides, the control of cellphones is not the duty of the school alone. i suppose parents also believe that their should be restrictions of its use inside the school. only upon the cooperation of the students, parents and school by joint formulation of policies can an effective cellphone regulation be enforced.


Anonymous said...

hey sir cool site...Ü

Anonymous said...

Hi, tito Rolly --I hope you don't mind if I call you that. I've been lurking here for the longest time but I just had to comment on this one.
I think it's great that schools are regulating the use of cellphones during class hours, and I agree with you when you say that confiscation to remedy the situation isn't such a great idea.
I just thought that while the school is correct in setting the child's expectations about what they can and cannot do, it might not be a bad idea to make "keeping the peace" in the classroom, (i.e., no annoying text beeps or ring tones) a team effort.
If a ring or text tone disturbs the class, the entire class suffers the consequences, regardless of whose phone it was: such as a surprise quiz or something like that.
The kids might get forced to check their phones and see if they're in silent mode or keep tabs on classmates to remind them to do the same, but it will foster some team work and initiative.
The downside, though, is if there are individuals in class who, in case they accidentally do not leave their phones silent, might be resented by those who did.


rolly said...

Hi mik, thanks for commenting. Yes, the disturbance cellphones make in class is a no-no. To avoid accidents like you mentioned (forgetting to put them on silent mode) we tell our students to turn them off.