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Several schools are banning the use of cellphones in class, saying the technology has become more of a hinderance to learning than a help.

 

And some Sumner County teachers hope the idea catches on here.

 

“I would completely do away with cellphones,” said French teacher Erin Flannery. “Students can’t follow the rules.”

 

Indeed, a growing number of educators in the U.S. and around the world are deciding that smartphones and similar mobile devices are a major distraction that can be eliminated now that schools have enough laptop computers for students.

 

A quick search of news reports reveals several developments:

 

 

  • Seymour High School in Connecticut reported higher grades and more focus in the classroom since it instituted a blanket cellphone ban last year, according to an Associated Press story. The school’s principal said the staff also “immediately” noticed a difference in how students interacted with each other in the cafeteria, as well as a jump in productivity. “I’ve had students come to me and say, ‘You know I’ve never gotten so much homework done before,’” Principal Jim Freund said.
  • Many schools in Wisconsin have already banned cellphones or are considering it. Students “are not distracted anymore,” Portage High School Principal Robin Kvalo told Wisconsin Public Radio. “The phones are not their preoccupation. They know they can’t have the phones in the classroom.”
  • Schools in Alabama, Colorado, Ohio, Oklahoma, and other states have followed suit, as have ones in Greece, France, Great Britain, Ireland and Canada. France went as far as to ban cellphones and similar mobile devices nationwide for schoolchildren ages 3 to 15, according to CNN.
  • The British newspaper The Guardian reported a study by the London School of Economics that found student test scores improved by 6.4 percent after mobile phones were banned from school grounds. The study’s authors estimated that the effect of the ban was the “equivalent of adding five days to the school year.”

In Sumner County, individual schools and teachers largely regulate cellphones at their discretion. Some HHS teachers, for instance, don’t allow them to be used at all in their classrooms while others leave it up to students to decide when they should or shouldn’t be on their phones in class.

 

Messages left with Sumner County schools spokesman Jeremy Johnson were not returned for this story, but HHS Principal Bob Cotter told The Ville News earlier this semester that he didn't expect a cellphone ban in Sumner County.

 

“If we say absolutely no cellphones, students are going to be in an uproar,” Cotter said. “Parents are going to be in an uproar too because they see cellphones as their emergency contact with their kids if something happens at school.”

 

HHS Spanish teacher Sarah Wolf thinks trying to ban cellphones is like trying to put “a genie back in a bottle.”

 

“Cellphones are a part of our lives,” said Wolf, who allows her students a short break during class to get on their phones. “You just have to help guide them to use cellphones responsibly.”

 

As expected, just the thought of no cellphones in school makes most students cringe.

 

“Oh my gosh, No!” Sergei Wright, a junior, exclaimed about the prospect of having to leave his phone at home during school.

 

Story by Kiya Whitlow, Isabella Logue and Brittney Towe

    

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