For the students in our care, the introduction of bans, restrictions, constraints and rules are a double-edged sword. It gives them boundaries, certainty, ritual and traditions, teaches them how to live in a community and at times, offers up a great source of irritation that children and adolescents rage against passionately.
In the last few weeks, the school has been carefully managing the use of smart technology during school hours, particularly class time, in order to reiterate the importance of being present and focussing on the relational aspects of community learning in the school day.
Our message has been an extension of the expectations of our families and includes the role-modelling of good manners, giving people your full attention, and avoiding distraction through self-awareness and self-management. These are not new concepts, but indicators of humanity that have stood the test of time.
Rather than look upon our Mobile Phone Management Policy as taking something away from our students, I would like to flip the conversation. Let us look at what we are giving students in the way of 21st century skills. Going without their devices during school hours may help develop social awareness, empathy, critical thinking (and thinking for one’s self), communication skills (speaking AND listening), literacy (speaking in actual words, and not that of abbreviations and emojis) and collaboration.
Social researcher and media commentator, Claire Madden, spoke to CGGS teachers at the end of 2017 and highlighted some of the challenges society faces when dealing with Generation Z (those born between 1995-2009).
A ‘Global youth culture’ has emerged in this generation, where social trends, online brands, and a global peer network have influenced and connected the youth generation on a global scale. Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, as well as online marketplaces, viral YouTube videos, musicians and bloggers, have connected the generation, bringing unity to the culture as a whole.
I am grateful to everybody who has contacted the School to voice their opinion. Nobody has the answer, but for now, this is where we have landed and I look forward to the continuing conversation with parents, staff and importantly, students.
I wish you all a wonderful weekend and hope to see many of you at tonight’s Welcome Back to School Picnic where you can take advantage of the wonderful hospitality shown by our Parents and Friends’ Association.