Okay, I admit I teach in a pretty privileged environment where I don’t face the threat of violence from students on an everyday basis. That some teachers do face threats and intimidation in the classroom and that they can still go and make a difference to their students is an enormous credit to them.
So, I can understand how it makes good sense, especially in political terms, for a new Minister to be rolling out the ‘law and order’ argument, as happened this week from new Victorian Education Minister, Martin Dixon, as reported in the little paper.
And, studies do show that an ‘orderly’ classroom, a classroom without violence, for example, is one of the key pre-determinants for learning to occur (Hattie).
BUT, what’s with the mobile phone connection? Why is this article headlined with a peaceful looking student engaged in a phone conversation? And, doesn’t it really imply that, along with knives, bad language and ‘sloppy dress’ the mobile phone is a weapon of disorder and unruliness?
So, instead of looking to the potential in the enormous number of young people coming into our schools with a powerful mini-computer in their pockets, we see it instead as a distraction, a negative, even some kind of weapon. At the same time as educational commentators bemoan the ‘digital divide’, disengagement in schools, and the need for 21st Century skills, our political betters are trotting out ‘back to basics’ truisms backed up by a compliant media.
We haven’t even scratched the surface of the potential for the mobile phone as a tool for learning in our schools. But, maybe one of the reasons we haven’t is because that really would be a possible shake-up to the ‘order’ of things in schools.
[Screenshot captured in my newest Chrome extension: Awesome Screenshot]