Beginning life as a Junior College (JC) student certainly comes with numerous perks – any freshie can testify to that. The one aspect I suspect many students enjoy the most has got to be that mobile phones are allowed during school hours. Having undenied access to your mobile phones all day- who would not relish the opportunity? This is the first time, at least for me, that teachers are not stressing on the prohibition of mobile phones every day nor breathing down our necks 24/7, trying to catch us in the act of breaching the school code. It was as if I was pulled out of dystopia and thrust into utopia. However, it was not to last…
Initially, I had seen this new change as something extremely favourable, because in this day and age, there is hardly anyone who can live without his or her phone. I felt that the school was right to allow us access to our phones. After all, it would be utterly odd to still lock up the phones of people who are almost adults. However, only a week into school, and I was starting to rethink whether this was such a good idea after all. Many of us have decided to fully utilise this new freedom by gluing our faces to our phone screens every time a lecture or talk gets dull and lifeless. For example, just a week ago, the school organised a talk on Values In Action (VIA) projects. While some presenters were beyond humorous and managed to touch our hearts with their heroic acts, others were much less engaging and literally put a few students to sleep. Some students decided to deal with this situation by whipping out their phones. Sitting on one of the higher levels in the performance theatre, I had only to crane my neck slightly to see the number of lighted screens in the hands of bored students. Be it to send text messages to a friend or to keep abreast of the latest update on social media, these students are tossing important information right out the window over something so absurd. Back in our secondary school days, lessons and talks do get dry too, but because we have our phones kept out of reach (and under the watchful eyes of teachers), we had no other choice than to listen, and as we listened, we learnt. Now that our phones are kept at arm’s length, the temptation is unbearable, and it sends us reaching into our pockets for our phones every time lessons get mundane. Is this the way to learn? We’ve come so far to get into such a prestigious college, are we about to throw it all away because of a phone? For all we know, if we keep descending this downward spiral, our grades will be in shambles in no time.
However, as much as I’d like for teachers to put a stop to the use of mobile phones during school hours, I cannot help but be caught in a bit of a dilemma. As much as phones do bring students problems such as distraction, it brings benefits as well. It would be inevitable that the time comes when we would need our phones, for example, as a memory aid to snap a quick picture of a boardful of Math solutions so we could revisit and mull over it at home, or to take a voice recording of a lecture, in case the lecturers do not record it for students. It also serves as a learning aid for us to instantaneously Google, for example, a foreign Chemistry term we stumbled upon in our lecture. Personally, there have been a couple of times where I am thankful for my phone. One such time was when my Economics teacher had double booked a classroom by accident and had to inform the class that there has been a change in location. Without the phone, she would have to pain-stakingly spread the message by mouth, but the phone had saved us from walking to the wrong classroom block only to make a detour. There are many other problems that can be solved with the snap of your fingers using your phone and taking away the phones of students could undoubtedly bring about a large deal of inconvenience.
At the end of the day, the mobile phone is a necessity in JC but unfortunately a trouble maker for some. The school certainly cannot baby us any longer by prohibiting phones, hence we have to take it upon ourselves to know what it is that stands in the way of our learning. If it is the smartphone, we should learn to curb our temptations by, maybe, keeping our phones with our friends or even leaving it at home. Only when we have come to the point where we trust ourselves around our phones, can we safely learn with them.
Megan Chor, 16S31