ConVal High School says it's time to reinforce cell phone policyBy MEGHAN PIERCE
Union Leader Correspondent
February 12. 2018 9:45PM
PETERBOROUGH — ConVal High School marked the beginning of its second semester of the school year with a reinforcement of its cell phone policy.
ConVal High School Principal Gib West said enforcement of the no cell phone policy during class time has ebbed and flowed as teachers struggled with the changing technology.
“When cell phones first came out there was a lot of discussion about distraction and what can we do,” West said.
Way back during the flip phone days the school’s policy to prohibit phones during class time was drafted with the help of students.
However, with the advent of smartphones some teachers have started to allow the use of phones in the classroom over the years to play music, quiz students through the use of apps and conduct research online.
Students also text their parents and friends, watch YouTube videos and play games on their phones during class time.
“It needs to really be the teacher’s direction that allows the student to use it for a purpose,” West said.
However, this leads to teachers who don’t allow any use in the classroom to be labeled as “mean,” West said. “What I continue to hear from some of my younger teachers is that they are struggling to manage it. It appeared that many students assumed that this was their device for them to do what they want with it. And there became a tension because we weren’t acting together.”
West said on top of that the research is mounting that smartphones and apps can be addictive and a distraction from learning.
“And there is more and more brain research out there that says that thing that we call multitasking really isn’t multitasking,” West said. “Constant partial attention, whatever language you want to use, it’s pretty clear from brain research that we can’t do multiple things well at the same time. Bottom line.”
West said by allowing cell phones during class time, “we are disrupting their learning.”
West said he met with students in class groups and some privately about the issue last week as the semester began. West said he only got one complaint from a parent about the policy.
West said online literacy is important, but should not be taught on a student’s personal device, especially since not all students can afford smartphones.
Freshmen and sophomores have Chromebooks during class time to use the internet under teacher direction. And starting in the fall all classes will have Chromebooks.
Students who violate the policy will be asked to place their phone in a basket in the classroom.
The policy has been around for a while, said ConVal High School student Matthew Burke, 16, of Antrim, outside of the school Thursday afternoon. “But they are just now recently starting to enforce it.”
Burke and another student Justin Hebert, 18, of Peterborough said the policy is not going to change much.
“It’s not going to do anything really,” Hebert said. “I have actually, since the change has come, I have actually used it more in the classroom.”
Sometimes for personal use, sometimes for school purposes, he said.
“Every now and then I’ll take a picture of the homework or look up something for class,” Hebert said. “It’s unreasonable to not have them in school when you are going to be using them outside of school in the real world.”