Let the rest of us learn: turn off your cell phone!

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By: Justin Kaialoa

This is it. Today is the day. The day you’re going to finally pay attention in class, maybe even walk out knowing something you didn’t before. You stroll into class on time, take a seat, pull out your book, and get ready for some mind expanding education. It is going good so far, twenty minutes into the lecture and you’re still conscious: you might just make it.

Suddenly you would think you were in a dance club on a Saturday night. The newest Three 6 Mafia song is blasting through the room, but instead of people moving their hips in a sensual manner all around you, you’re still in class. Where could this music be coming from? Oh, it’s the person next to you; it’s their cell phone.

Perhaps this has happened to you in several of your classes. Being subjected to the music other people want you to know they listen to via cell phone is not uncommon. It used to be a ringer, which was enraging in itself, but with the capabilities of the newer phones, the possibilities for disruption are endless.

Let the new ring tone technology not be the only one scorned. Traditional ringers are distracting too, as are the vibration feature when left atop a table. When the phone rings a high pitched sequel is not sounded, just the reverberation of a piece of plastic bouncing up and down on a hard surface. This could happen if the person is receiving a phone call, or a text message. Both of which are answered in class regularly.

On several occasions I have seen students actually answer their phone in the middle of class, and make an attempt at having a clandestine conversation. What’s up with this? Can’t you at least excuse yourself from class? I, too am guilty of the whole cell phone epidemic, and I don’t usually turn my phone off in class, but I have it on silent. If I absolutely have to take a call, I silently remove myself from the classroom and then answer.

Put the phone on silent, or keep it on vibrate in your pocket; excuse yourself from class when you need to take a call- problem solved, right? No, now we enter the magical world of text messaging. This is the silent killer of attention spans. It is completely possible to carry on a conversation with someone miles away, all within the comfort of a classroom. While this doesn’t make noise, unless the phone sounds off every time a message is received, it does distract the student and students who may be sitting in close proximity.

To counteract these interruptions, many teachers spell out in their syllabi that cell phones are to be turned off, or put on silent when in the classroom. They then proceed to make this rule vocal, just incase a student missed the message hidden in the black ink on the paper handed to them. Yet, this does not deter the need to be reached at every moment of existence. Unfortunately, instead of scolding students who disobey this rule, most teachers simply give the student a stern look of disappointment and continue with class.

Cell phones are what some might view as a curse on modern society, others a driving force in their daily lives. I am somewhere in the middle, I don’t think it is necessary, but it is a nice convenience. A majority of people have them, and there is little a teacher can do to make people turn them off, or at least silence them during the class period, aside from deducting a number of points from the person each time it happens, which some might do, others not. Perhaps they could do what some professors claim they will do if a cell phone ring is audible during lecture: answer the phone for the student. This would embarrass a student greatly in front of the class, and also to the person on the other end of the line. Making a fool of the person is pretty good way to ensure it won’t happen again, unless of course they are masochistic and enjoy public humiliation. Sometimes making an example of one person is necessary. Figure it this way: they are just taking one for the team.

The real responsibility lands firmly on the shoulders of the owner. Think about the other students who also pay to be there, and then consider the fact that they may actually care what the instructor is saying. A push of a button is literally all that has to be done to silence these mechanical beasts of burden.