The recent, shattering news, that a teacher was stabbed in the stomach as a result of attempting to confiscate a mobile phone is bound to have a significant impact on the teacher, the class, the school, parents and also we hope the miscreant himself.
One of the downsides of social media is the constant demand to have connectivity. The vast majority of users feel the need to connect with friends dynamically throughout their waking hours. Years ago talking in class or passing a written note was abhorred and dealt with by teachers with an air of authority.
Today communications have mutated and controlling the delinquents has become complex. Technology has resulted in the ability to instantly communicate globally that has given some children a feeling of misplaced power. Viewpoints formulated in an instant can become viral in an hour. Whilst this has endless benefits this level of connectivity can be horribly abused. We can now voice opinions and pontificate based on poorly researched facts or misguided personal judgement. Our phone or tablet has become an essential in life, from which we are loath to be parted.
School children are not alone in this dilemma. The arbiters of fact, the press have also dropped their guard. No longer pursuing stories that are thoroughly researched some journalists often rely on hearsay dredged from social media. One national newspaper has retargeted its reporting staff to orientate articles to very specific target audiences in order to attract social media comment. The papers’ journalists are alarmed at such a move fearing this dumbing down reporting to become fast moving trivia merely to generate hits. Regrettably mobile phone and tablets have a “send” button that operates seconds ahead of rational thought. Thus misplaced comment is all too often published, and frequently deleted as soon as possible – but not before setting the cat amongst the pigeons.
To reduce the misplaced publication would need an additional form of control, a measure of considered thought by way of a time lapse before the information can be released. This may well cause turmoil with breaking news but maybe time served journalists could be licensed and have an immediate send facility.
A sloppy element in the news reporting is the frequent cross referencing of an item to social media comments dredged up through a quick Goole search and pasted into the reporters piece.
Back in school the needs of the future must be considered and positively developed – but also controlled. Classroom discipline has been eroded to the detriment of the remainder of the class, teachers threatened and even stabbed. Society will inherit these children as responsible adults. They must be taught the curriculum against which society will judge their ability. Of almost equal importance they must learn the pros and cons of effective communication. In this quest there is a growing concern from the absence of the disciplinary head teacher able to control students and give support to staff.
One feature that needs enforcement is the control in the use of smartphones. Difficult if the use of the device is being concealed, and an extraordinary waste of teaching time and energy through its confiscation. Time now to establish an effective countermeasure through a school-wide jamming system that is switched on at the start of school until lunchtime, and then again during the afternoon lessons. All Wi-Fi, 3G, 4G signals are excluded. Lessons needing the Internet would have data cable links.
A draconian measure perhaps but efficient, with no “ifs or buts” the reinstallation of an element discipline would prevent time wasting and help prevent criminal treats to teachers.