Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Do you realise that when you're in a bad mood, you tend to speak your mind a lot more without caring about what the consequences might be? Well, this could be one of those moments.

So recently, our Government announced that they are considering allowing students to bring mobile phones and other gadgets to school (I think it's now approved to begin next year). I remember way back when they did make this change, but it only lasted for a week or so.

And apparently, this time the reaction is quite negative, too. Personally, I'm for this move. I think it's time that we move with the times. After all, students spend half their day in school. The Malaysian education system is one that is grossly outdated. It's time we make some changes and hopefully bring up better graduates.

The Star had several reader comments:

A live Twitter discussion on the plan hosted by R.AGE, The Star's award-winning youth platform saw mostly negative responses from young people, who said it could lead to problems like peer pressure, bullying and lower attention spans.

One respondent, @tincancat, tweeted: “More scandalous high school videos? More drama? More cyberbullying? More anti-social behaviour?”

Another user, @ShinDGypsy, believed the move would just put pressure on kids who did not have the luxury of owning mobile devices. “I think the less privileged kids will start to feel the pressure to get one since all their friends own one, especially smartphones!” 

The bulk of the replies, however, focused on how allowing phones in school would affect concentration levels in class and even the students' communication skills. “Imagine a classroom or a whole school where everyone is holding a phone. It just seems lifeless to me. It could lead to other big problems like students being unable to focus, too lazy to study, ringtones becoming a distraction and ultimately their results will go downhill,” tweeted @JohnCLW. Form Three student @RachieWongie added: “This is a HORRIBLE idea. No one will pay attention in class, especially if there's free WiFi. We'll be on Twitter or Facebook!”

And here's what I think: 

1) Regarding cyberbullying: Just because you don't see it doesn't mean it's not there. Personally, I'd rather these videos show up just so we know what the students are up to these days. I mean, I'd take seeing a video of a kid being bullied and action being taken over the kid suffering in silence and finally committing suicide anyday. 

2) Regarding peer pressure: As if it doesn't exist already. It's not like teens don't hang out after classes, you know? 

3) Regarding concentration levels: Honestly, this is a good thing. This gives teachers more motivation to spice up their lessons to attract the attention of students. And, if done correctly (by both parents and teachers) teens can have really good phone manners, such as not using it while a class is underway. If students would rather pay attention to their teacher rather than text a friend, you know the teacher's good. It's a negative reinforcement for the teachers! I can definitely think of a few high school teachers who could've put more effort into making their classes interesting.

4) Regarding students being on Facebook / Twitter / anti social behaviour: Proper education of social manners and courtesy is needed. Starting with parents not being on the phone while having a meal with their child. 

I know, I know, there are also many arguments that I can pull up against the issue, such as more vicious online bullying as teens have more time to spend on Facebook spreading rumours, but mobile phones aren't going anywhere. One day every citizen would have one. Are we still going to limit our youths then? 

To say that just because the older generation didn't have that privilege isn't valid; it sounds like jealousy, even- my father didn't have the toys I had, too, does that mean he can take that away from me? No, because it's just a sign of changing times. 

Sometimes, a little reverse psychology works too. Sure, at the beginning students would not let their phones go, but give them some time and they would see having phones in school as something quite normal and would not care that much anymore. The more rules you set, the more you restrict them, the more they will rebel. That's why in the Netherlands youths are allowed to drink- they are taught from young that it's okay to drink responsibly. 

And phones aren't all that bad, either- smartphones could be a great educational resource; there must be tons of apps that helps organise days, remember assignments and exams, look up information (for when you're disagreeing with a teacher), etc. Students could actually harness this to better equip themselves. Of course, this sounds quite utopic, so I shall leave it at that- a possibility. 

Technology advances exponentially, and in my opinion I think it is definitely the right way to go. Yes, there are flaws in the move, but by not going ahead with this aren't we simply being envious that our kids get to enjoy the using of gadgets from a young age, that they are so fortunate; aren't we living in the past, refusing to move on? Aren't we simply being fearful of the unknown? Are we not preventing our country from developing with the rest of the world, to develop our youths so that they will one day take over the reins of managing our nation? 
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  1. Tempus says:

    Oh and people will now start Angry-birding their ways in PE classes. Wait, even PE classes are now only one period.

    I don't know, the education system already sucked, now its going to suck even more.

    Nvm la, international schools exist for a reason.