I Knew It Was Too Good To Be True…

Lola Okolosie on mobile phones in class:

A recent large-scale study found that banning mobile phones improved exam results by 2%, even when gender and class had been accounted for. At first glance it seems an insignificant rise but the impact is equivalent to one extra week of school a year. The researchers from the London School of Economics centred their work on 91 schools and the exam results from 130,000 pupils since 2001. For those entitled to free school meals or with special educational needs the ban was doubly effective.

Hurrah! Incontrovertible evidence, and no more than you’d expect from an English teacher that…

Wait. What?

Investigations such as this throw into question whether mobile phones could, in fact, intensify inequality.


Allowing mobile phones would almost certainly increase cyberbullying. Then there is the needless work they would create for teachers dealing with pupils who have lost or had stolen a £180 phone they got for Christmas.

And here is a much less-discussed problem, the pressure of keeping up appearances. In 2012 the department store John Lewis surveyed 2,000 parents, and found the average cost of equipping children for school was an eye-watering £550. Even if we dismiss that figure as far from average, John Lewis being the well-heeled person’s Argos and all, the high price of smartphones is hard to ignore. Costing an average of £270, it is shocking to think that by 2017, 96% of teenagers will own one.

Yes, it’s particularly shocking when you consider that the ‘poor and deprived’ that the ‘Guardian’ regularly weeps over will be among this figure…

It is inevitable that those with parents who can’t afford such amounts will desire them more intensely.

No doubt. So what?

Today, most of us can agree that school uniforms are a great social leveller. Standing out as the one with crap clothes is hard to do when everyone is dressed identically. The argument against mobile phones should be similar. Keep them out of schools. Allow children to learn in peace, free from the worry that the phone is one giant signal of their reduced means.


6 comments for “I Knew It Was Too Good To Be True…

  1. September 9, 2015 at 11:14 am

    What in the name of all that is sensible are kids doing with expensive mobile phones in their classrooms anyway? They are supposed to be learning, to be educated; not flashing around the latest hi-tech gimmick in communication technology.

    I suppose thay might have to be weaned off their infantile ‘facebook’ and ‘snapchat’ and all the other timewasting pieces of rubbish, but If I ran a school, the phones would be left at home; or else!

    • September 9, 2015 at 1:20 pm

      I have just come out of a meeting in which it was proposed that pupils – sorry ‘learners’ – should be allowed to use their phones in class to take photos of anything written on the board by the teacher.

  2. Hereward unbowed.
    September 9, 2015 at 2:52 pm

    This is a purposeful policy, dumbed down and damned, lav inspired but the Blue Marxists did nothing to push back at the oncoming tide.

    Academia, run through by the critical theorists have set the rot, a slippery slope which has been growing steeper, as each year passes by.
    All you need to do is, quiz a kid under 30 about general knowledge, geography and history – it’s total blank, on chemistry, physics and mathematics – nonplussed is all you can expect.

    I wonder, musing as you do…. if Chinese kids are allowed to use their mobile cell phones in the classroom………….nah don’t answer that.
    I recall one comment from a visiting British teacher, “they [Chinese skools] had no screens in the classroom” – said Brit’ teacher probably had to have counselling, alack and alas….the shock and the horror of it!

    Mary Bousted, is alus complaining about teachers, I know she’s right. It’s true, they are crap, very poorly educated and know next to nothing, small wonder kids attending sink estate schools are not equipped for life in the real world but then, happy days – they will be able to navigate an iphone, though be unable to take notes off a blackboard – warm feeling engendered.

    It is not the childrens’ fault. Blame the politicians but it was ‘that generation’ too – aye, for they took their own eyes off the ball and if you have kids, it is your obligation to set it to rights. Reference books, get them reading everything they can lay their eyes on.

  3. September 9, 2015 at 2:59 pm

    An old friend of mine; an ex-maths teacher in the 1980’s, often said he could tell who the under achievers in any class would be. Their houses had satellite dishes or Cable TV.

    I suppose the same holds true for any cheap and tacky distraction. Like cell phones.

  4. ivan
    September 9, 2015 at 8:21 pm

    Where are they getting these £180 phones? Mine cost less than €50, has dual SIM slots and takes a large capacity SD card. It is also very good for making phone calls which is what I use it for.

  5. September 10, 2015 at 3:08 pm

    “”Standing out as the one with crap clothes is hard to do when everyone is dressed identically””

    Hmmmmm. I spent 20 + years in military uniform and I made a point of having the grottiest hat. I also wore a beret when all around wore a peak. Then there was the time I had a uniform made in Honkers that was just a hint darker in colour. On the first Parade rehearsal after taking possession of this magnificent cloth the chap next to me was sent off for having a ‘faded’ one. He bought me a pint.

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