Sahlberg, a Finnish educator, author and education policy advisor recently spoke to the Sunday Herald to express his support for banning mobile phones in schools. The professor who sits on the Scottish International Council of Education Advisers has warned of the of the disruptive and harmful impact smartphones have on the learning process. Moreover, he has voiced concern over the shocking trend of pupils posting explicit material of their classmates and teachers online.
The trend, which particularly targets female students and teachers sees male pupils taking sexual images of their cohorts and then sharing them amongst each other and online, actions that have been criminal offence in Scotland since 2009. Scottish Independent Education Consultant and Vice-Convenor of Children in Scotland, Keir Bloomer, said that phones in schools were being used as tools of abuse and supported a ban on the devices in schools.
Classroom Ban Could Be the Easiest Solution
Sahlberg has called for more stringent measures to tackle the problem, saying that a ban would be the easiest remedy and it would benefit both students and teachers by providing them with a safe environment. Speaking to the Sunday Herald he said: “I understand the concerns that come from extreme ethical violations like posting explicit materials from schools or classrooms in social media or for private use. That is indeed a serious issue that must be tackled before it gets worse.”
“I am also personally worried about the disturbing aspect of having smartphone present when we are trying to get something done. I have heard hundreds of stories from teachers here and abroad about how having your smartphone in your pocket and sensing the incoming messages vibrating distracts students’ attention from learning. Many teachers are upset that they have to serve as ‘police officers’ hunting down misusers and those who violate in-school or classroom-based rules.”
Responsible Use of Technology Needs to be Taught
Although Deputy First Minister, John Swinney refuses to institute a blanket he did concede that something had to be done saying: “As Education Secretary – and as a parent – I’m acutely aware of both the upsides and the downsides of rapidly changing technology in a learning environment.”
“Clearly the learning experience of our young people can and does benefit from the extraordinary array of information that is available at their fingertips. And clearly technology is always going to feature in the lives of our young people – we cannot simply wish it away. But we absolutely must make sure that they are taught to use that technology appropriately and responsibly – whether they are inside the school grounds or outside.”
“Headteachers can already ban phones if they wish to. We encourage local authorities and schools to think carefully about how to ensure there is no inappropriate use of smart and mobile phones in schools.”