Saturday, May 19, 2007

iPods in school debate

We had an interesting discussion in a High School faculty meeting today. The debate was what to about "personal listening devices" at school. Some faculty were in favour of banning them altogether. The reasons being:

  • The historical reasons were:

    1. There is a very real possibility that students can damage their hearing.

      • Teenagers being the creatures they are need to see immediate consequences. Deafness /impaired hearing five ten years down the line is not on teenagers' timescale.

      • Volume and length of exposure are the key factors. Should we do what we can to reduce exposure?

    2. There is a concern that students were not socializing with each other. when they were jacked into their iPods they weren't connecting with each other. Not the environment we want to promote at school.

    3. There was a concern about the students listening to explicit lyrics that were inappropriate for school, and listening to such lyrics would not be conducive to engaging in constructive dialogue with their peers

  • Additional concerns

    1. The need for students to spend sometime unplugged, in that they ar eplugged in so much of the rest of their day. The converse of this argument is that allowing iPods in school helps make school like the rest of their world.

    2. The possibility of students using iPods to cheat on tests and exams as witnessed by this article
    3. Some students are not using the personal listening devices responsibly, ie. walking past people without exchanging basic civil greetings like "good morning"

On the flip side, certain faculty members were arguing:

  1. The current policy of no personal listening devices at school from 8:30 to 3:30 (school hours) except under the direct supervision of a teacher was basically unenforceable.

  2. There are perfectly valid reasons to listen to an iPod at school, especially when teachers assign podcasts to listen to such as in Easy French

  3. The students are social about their listening devices socially, often sharing a pair of buds between two people

  4. If not at school, where else can we teach students to use these devices responsibily

Good analogies abounded.

  • When one is reading, one is immersed in a world of one's own

  • Students may be reading objectionable material, but we don't censor that

All in all it was a very good discussion. In the end, the decision was to reframe the school rule so that students are allowed to use personal listening devices at school during their free time, and in classes only with permission of the teacher. I can clearly see the arguments on both sides of this debate. The only one that I have trouble with is the cheating argument. Why are we testing students on rote memorization? Why are we not looking at what value the students can add to the content with which they are working? The health argument especially caused me to rethink allowing students to use their iPods in my computer literacy class while they do their typing. I had always thought of it in terms of the music being an incentive for them to engage in what would otherwise be a dull repetitive task. I need to think some more about the effects it has on their hearing, or at the very least monitor more closely decibel levels.


Anonymous said...

I agree, but sometimes students might not be cheating or listening to explict songs maybe they parents dont let them listen to songs like that and plus some students might be more mature then other students.

Ichigo said...

Why are we reffered to as creatures in the first bullet does that make all adults monsters in my opinion this is not an accurate statement considering we are all human beings calling us creatures gives us the right to insult our teachers in such ways which i would enjoy :)