Look in any school handbook today, and you are sure to see some type of policy on the use of cell phones. The devices are generally banned, being viewed as a distraction from the educational process.

On the other hand, cell phones have become part of our culture. A generation ago, a student who needed to telephone a parent to pick him up after athletic practice went to a pay phone. Just try to find a pay phone today. Many would argue that a cell phone is a necessity in today’s world, yet schools continue to ban them, and kids find ways around to still use them.

I think the key is not banning the cell phones, but eliminating the interruptions that they can provide. A year ago, I encouraged people to read a post written by Vicki Davis on her blog. Vicki is a computer teacher from Camilla, Georgia. In her post, she explains exactly how students use their cell phones in her class. She goes on to explain how she handles inappropriate use of cell phones in her class.

The big picture to me, however, is not the distraction cells phones may cause. It’s the opportunity either seized upon or lost to teach kids how to use a common tool in a productive way. That’s why I thinking reading Vicki’s article is a must. It sheds a whole new light on what is possible for kids now. We are trying to teach them how to function in the 21st century, and we are going to have to use 21st century tools to do it.

As a next step, I am not saying everyone should allow students to use cell phones anytime, anywhere, or however they like. What I am saying is that as a next step, read Vicki’s article. In light of her thoughts and the thoughts of others like her, begin the discussion of what is going to best help our students to be productive in the 21st century. Right now, it looks like using cell phones as a productivity tool is a pretty good component.

The post I have referring to can be found here.

What are the policies on cell phones in your school? What are your feelings on how we should be using them?