To ban or not to ban...?
Over the last year, there has been much media attention about the use of mobile phones at school. Countries such as France have decided to ban them, as have a number of schools in Australia. However, although they can be a distraction, mobile phones can also be used very powerfully to enhance learning. The issue is – when and where should they be used. Here at Abbotsleigh, we firmly believe that to empower young women age appropriately, education and helping girls develop skills of self-regulation are by far the best ways to tackle the issues of overuse and misuse of mobile phones at school.
It is entirely appropriate that mobile phones are not used by Junior School girls at school. However, we are taking a different approach with girls in the Senior School. I am delighted that Ms Fell and Ms Royston have been working with Middle School and SC Archdale girls to develop guidelines about this. As Ms Fell writes:
'It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a Middle School or a SC Archdale girl in possession of a mobile phone, must be in want of some guidelines. With apologies to Jane Austen, I share with you the work that we have been doing in the Middle School and SC Archdale to help our girls use mobile phones in an appropriate way. Students in Years 7-10 have been researching and working through a process to develop some principles that they would like girls to follow with their mobile phones at school. The tutor group representatives have boldly led the way, liaising with the girls in their tutor group and sharing their views via surveys and in meetings with the Deans of Middle School and SC Archdale.
There has been an overwhelming sense that our Abbotsleigh values should help us as we navigate this process. Although our mobile phone guidelines are not yet finalised and will require further discussion, I am confident that our girls will develop something that our students will want to follow.
At a Middle School assembly on Tuesday, our girls learned more about our journey to date and were invited to provide further input during a tutor time next week. The girls also watched this funny video, which held up a mirror to some of the behaviours that we are keen to avoid. I have been impressed with the level of our students' engagement and their understanding of the importance of ownership in this process. I look forward to sharing more details once we finalise the guidelines. It may not be a universally acknowledged truth, but I certainly know that adolescent girls are more likely to abide by guidelines that they have taken part in developing.'
Ms Alison Fell
Dean of Middle School
The research undertaken by the girls and the maturity they are demonstrating are most impressive, proving yet again that Abbotsleigh girls really are amazing.
I recently heard a story of a dentist who did not ban lollies in her house as she believed it was important for her children to learn to eat these in moderation. She also believed that if they were banned, her children would probably sneak them in, or just gorge themselves any time they had the opportunity to eat lollies, such as at parties. Similarly, we believe banning mobile phones for adolescents is quite counter productive.
That being said, there are some things that you as parents can do to help us help the girls to practise self-regulation. These include:
• not ringing or texting your daughter during the school day. (If you need to contact her, please ring the School and we can get a message through)
• encouraging your daughter not to ring or text you during the school day
• thinking about having phone free times at home eg while you're eating dinner together, or outside etc
• having a central charging centre in your home eg the kitchen, for all phones and laptops so that your daughter has a device free bedroom when she goes to sleep.
Borrowing from Jane Austen again, it is indeed 'a truth universally acknowledged' that parents, girls and teachers working together is the right formula for the best outcome. In this case, the outcome is that our girls use mobile phones in the most appropriate manner at the appropriate times, both at school and at home.