Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Jones opening can of worms


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I HAVE AN OVERWHELMING DESIRE to comment on Minister Ronald Jones’ seemingly unilateral decision to allow primary school students to take cellular phones to school. No consultation with teachers appeared to have been necessary.

Various media newscast reported Mr Jones as stating that students should be able to take their cellular phones to school and not lie about it. It seems he was extremely concerned about covertly contributing to encouraging students to lie.

Currently, in tertiary level institutions students use their laptops, tablets or phones to research topics while in the class and this is encouraged. However, they also use the phones and tablets to engage in a myriad of other unacceptable behaviours.

I recall entering my classroom from the rear one morning after leaving the students to research a particular question. My assumption that they were following my instructions was shattered when I observed what was on their computer screens. I saw games, videos and chats and even what appeared to be shopping. It was quite a while before they realised I had returned. Needless to say, most of them had no answer for what they were supposed to be researching.

One would think that with the available technology, students would be keener and sharper. Well, most of them may be but not in their studies.

Barbadian students are falling behind. My experience is that in any examination, students from the other Caribbean islands outperform Barbadians. This may be because the other Caribbean governments will cease to financially support students who fail consistently. Barbadian students spend an enormous amount of time on their phones doing things which are unrelated to their studies.

I have had some of them absent themselves when they have examinations and try to demand an opportunity later to sit the examination, using the excuse that they were busy at work. Some argue that they were absent because they weren’t prepared. Some students have no idea how to respond to questions while others are sadly lacking in language skills. I have taught students who informed me that if they do not know the answer to a question, I should supply it. This, even though they have the technology at hand.

I am humbly requesting Minister Jones to address the “responsibility” at the same time he addresses the “rights” of primary school students to take cellular phones to school.

Who will monitor what these inquisitive minds research online? These students will lie about any unsavoury activity they are engaging in when caught. How will we prevent them from lying? What problem would we have solved by allowing students to use phones while at school?



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