Mobile Distraction

I was at a seminar for educators a few years ago when the facilitator handed out a piece of paper with a picture of a parking lot on it. She encouraged everyone to turn off their cell phones and place them in one of the spots in the “parking lot”. Whenever we had an urge to use our phone for some reason, she asked us to write it in one of parking spots and once the parking lot was “full” we could go out into the hallway (with our phones) to empty the lot. It was only a 2 hour seminar but at least 5 people had to leave for “parking lot duty”! I thought it was a good move by the presenter and I felt sorry for the people who could not go 120 minutes without their phone.

This dependency on mobile devices is now getting people fired from their jobs. One of the career choices our students make is in the field of accounting and I am encouraging these students to apply for a job at Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC) after university. This is the firm who has been entrusted with the voting process at the Academy Awards for almost a century and as was discovered after the incorrect “Best Picture” award was given out, PwC managing partner Brian Cullinan (pictured) was on his phone and tweeting backstage during the ceremony. Our grads can say during their interview, “If you contact my reference, Mr. Macdonald, he will confirm that I know how to work without needing my phone!”

Because I have been at the school for so long, I do not know what it is like to have a cell phone out all of the time at work. I don’t know what workplaces in “the real world” do with respect to cell phone use but I can’t imagine employees pulling out their phones to answer a text in the middle of a presentation by the boss! I do know that the keywords for technology in both the classroom and the real world are “appropriate use”. At our schools, students who are found using a cell phone during the school day must surrender it immediately and must also meet with the divisional principal to see if further action is necessary. We believe that school (which is the equivalent of the workplace for students) is a place where the distractions of a phone far outweigh its benefits. I wonder (with the benefit of hindsight) if @briancullinan_ would agree?

Chris Starkey
Administrative Principal
Mentor College/TEAM School

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