Device Advice

takeiOn Monday, Mr. Philbrook (the co-founder and Executive Director of our schools) directed the principals to an opinion piece from last Saturday’s Globe and Mail. It was written by two University of Toronto political science professors who decided this year that they were banning all electronic devices from both lectures and discussion labs.

Their reasons were varied. First, they had observed that many of their students were using their devices for non-educational purposes like watching TV shows, using social media, playing solitaire or even taking part in online betting. Not only were they not able to grasp the material but they were a distraction to those around them. The second reason was from their experience in speaking with alumni who took the course prior to the advent (or to be more correct, the permitted use) of electronic devices. Comprehension of the course material, discussions with fellow students, asking questions of the prof and putting the material into coherent essays and examinations came only from paying full attention during the lectures. From this, the professors note that “like many innovations, ours is a rediscovery.”

Mentor College/TEAM School students would do well in their course. Upon leaving us, our graduates have been exposed to an appropriate use of technology in the classroom. We continue to believe that students learn and retain more information when they take the notes themselves (even with an internet-disabled laptop) and we value the give-and-take of opinions expressed in class from fully listening and participating. What the professors do not mention is the students who take the opportunity to disengage from the lesson by jumping on the internet are at the same time showing the instructor that he or she is not worthy of the respect of their position. How does it work in the “real world” during a staff meeting if employees are checking their text messages or seeing how they are doing in the hockey pool? I would be interested to hear from both employees and employers about that so feel free to send me a message. Email is (ironically) fine but if you want to be new-fashioned, I will even take your phone call. Just don’t expect to leave a voicemail; we have been “rediscovering” for over 30 years that people would much rather speak to a human being when they call our school!

Note: Here is the piece in its entirety.

Chris Starkey
Administrative Principal
Mentor College / TEAM School

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