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Saturday, 2 March 2013

The Ban

On Monday, aside from beginning new classes and using some new textbooks, our academy has decided to institute a ban on cell phones/electronic games.

In the past students have not been allowed to use phones in class--they are supposed to be turned off.  Personally, I don't even want to see them.

Sometimes my students ask if they can use their electronic dictionaries when they are working on vocabulary or writing assignments; sometimes I let them, but usually I require them to use printed dictionaries.

The reason for this new policy is that before class, and especially during the break times (10 or 20 minutes) between classes, the majority of students focus their entire attention on playing games on their phones.  If a student doesn't have a phone, they watch other students playing games.

(Students at our academy attend either MWF or TuTh, and on the days they attend all students have 2 classes, usually one with a Korean teacher and one with a foreign teacher.)

It's not unusual to see 4-5 students huddled together watching one student play a game.

Sometimes it happens like this: students have a class, then they have a break time, during which they play games.  Then they have a second class, and some students will tell the teacher they didn't do their homework, or they forgot it, or they will fail a vocabulary test, or they will ask to use the bathroom or drink water at the beginning of class.

All things that should have been taken care of during break time.

We like our students and understand that they are kids and want to have fun--especially when they are attending our academy into the afternoon/evening/night (we finish at 9:30 pm with middle school students).

However, we are an educational institution and the game-playing seems to be taking over our students' lives and, in some cases, minds (I have some boys who act out video game violence throughout my classes).

So a letter was sent out to parents last week to tell them about "the ban", which will probably happen like this:  Students in the first class will place their cell phones in a basket, and the first teacher will give the basket to the second teacher, who will return the phones when the second class ends and the students leave the academy.

That's the plan.  Clearly there will be some hiccups, and I am interested to see how this endeavor plays out with students, both short-term and long-term.

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