This paper explores the essay written by Moira Farr called “A Cell of Our Own Making.” In particular, Farr states that cell phones have become too important in people’s lives. She brings up an example of her teaching experience, when a student was irritated when asked to turn off her phone. In Farr’s opinion, it is compulsory that students turn off their phones during classes. She goes on to argue that before cell phones were invented, the issue was not even raised. All students came to class to listen to the professor and to study. Yet, as cell phones gained popularity, they have intruded into every part of people’s lives. This essay aims to explore the different arguments (for and against) cell phones in college classrooms. In the end, a conclusion is made.
First of all, it is important to consider the negative sides of having cell phones in college classrooms. To begin with, the interactions among students and professors become less saturated. This happens because students are often distracted by their cell phones. On the one hand, they are listening to the professor. On the other hand, they are not really paying attention to what is being said. Students constantly access their social media apps; for instance, when they get messages, comments, or likes. These attention shifts prevent human beings from becoming fully engaged with information. This process can be paralleled to the movements of a grasshopper. The student hops from one piece of information to another without staying in one place for long. Now, college material is often difficult to grasp. Students are tempted to distract themselves, especially if they find the subject difficult. Only the most studious and determined students are able to draw themselves away from their cell phones and listen to the professor. Yet this is not the story of most students. In fact, most students have issues with concentrating during classes and outside of them. There is another side to the situation which is explored below.
What are the positive aspects of allowing cell phones in classrooms? First of all, emergency situations may happen. Secondly, not all students are young people without responsibilities. Some students may have spouses or small children; some may have jobs. Situations may arise where students are contacted by family members or employers. Students may have numerous responsibilities outside of college that they need to take care of. It should also be mentioned that students are young adults who are old enough to make their own decisions. In the end, should cell phones be banned in classrooms or is it best to pass this responsibility on to the students? Should students make their own choices or should the professors choose for them?
In my opinion, Farr is absolutely right in stating that cell phones should be banned in classrooms. Firstly, there is an issue of respect. Professors come to classes in an attempt to instruct and teach. They invest their energy. It is rather demotivating if students do not pay attention. Moreover, this undermines the classroom discussion. Students do not feel stimulated, ask fewer questions, and have a difficulty memorizing the material. When a student is engaged in the learning process, it is more likely that she will remember the information. However, being constantly distracted by a cell phone makes the student inattentive. In the end, it is not such a big deal if students are asked to turn off their cell phones during classes. Even in emergency cases (which happen quite rarely), it is not an issue if the student calls back after the class is over.
Finally, Farr is right in her claim that cell phones should be banned from college classrooms. This does not only improve students’ concentration, but it allows for students and professors to engage in a meaningful exchange. Education is all about exchange. If this exchange is interrupted by cell phones, it becomes less meaningful and productive.