Fri, Jan 17, 2020 - Page 4 News List

Teachers tout benefits of phone rules

COST CONCERNS:Some schools want a centralized phone management system using special boxes, but budget worries arise, as each costs more than NT$1,000

By Hung Mei-hsiu, Chang Hsuan-che and Dennis Xie  /  Staff reporters, with staff writer

Phones are stored in a box at National Hsinchu Senior Industrial Vocational School in an undated photograph.

Photo: Hung Mei-hsiu, Taipei Times

Teachers have reported improved classroom environments after a policy to manage students’ use of mobile phones was implemented, National Hsinchu Senior Industrial Vocational School student affairs division head Liao Tsang-hsiang (廖倉祥) said on Sunday.

Following years of advice from parents, the school in August last year approved regulations to limit students’ use of mobile phones, tablets and cameras.

The 42 classrooms at the school are equipped with special boxes to store electronic devices, dubbed “chicken farms” — a play on the Chinese word for “mobile phone,” as one of the characters has the same pronunciation as “chicken” in Chinese, Liao said.

Students are required to put their devices in the boxes during school hours, otherwise holiday work or demerits would be handed out, he said.

After about a semester of the policy being implemented, most teachers have reported positive feedback, with students paying more attention in class, while they no longer worry that photographs or videos would be taken without permission, school principal Lee Heng-lin (李恆霖) said.

“Any effect on academic performance has not been determined, but the improved classroom dynamics would undoubtedly benefit students in the long term,” Lee said.

Students spend more time playing basketball or solving Rubik’s cubes outside classtime without their devices, while there is more chatting and laughter on campus, Liao said.

In Taichung, several junior-high and high schools have implemented similar policies, with students only allowed their phones to contact their parents before and after the day’s classes.

However, some students still break the rules, some principals said.

While schools want to install a centralized phone management system using special locked boxes, they do not have enough funds, with one box costing more than NT$1,000, they said.

Some schools leave decisions about phone restrictions to each classroom, while allowing phone use under specific circumstances.

With approval from the student affairs division, students can bring a phone to school that is marked with a sticker, Dahua Junior High School principal Hsu Hsiu-ching (徐秀青) said.

The student can use such a phone to contact their parents or for academic purposes with their teacher’s permission, Hsu said.

Affiliated Senior High School of National Chung Hsing University requires students to turn off their devices at school, unless a teacher says otherwise.

Taichung Municipal Chang-Yie Senior High School keeps its junior-high students’ phones for them and requires senior-high students to turn off devices. Both groups have 30 minutes during their lunch break.

The Ministry of Education said schools have autonomy to define phone use regulations, as long as decisions are made through a democratic process involving teachers, parents and students.

Additional reporting by Chen Chien-chih and Wu Po-hsuan

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