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Dutch teachers back ban on phones – poll

Nearly three-quarters of instructors in secondary schools say the devices are negatively affecting students’ concentration

The majority of teachers in the Netherlands’ General Education Union (AOb) support banning mobile phones from the classroom, a recent poll conducted by the organization revealed.

While more than half of primary and trade school teachers – 54% and 57%, respectively – supported keeping phones out of classrooms, 73% of secondary school teachers voted in favor of a government-imposed ban, AOb found. 

“It’s an obvious result,” Jelmer Evers, AOb’s official for secondary education, said in a press release last week. “Our members are saying the mobile phones are having a detrimental effect on pupils’ ability to concentrate. And that, in turn, affects the effectiveness of the teaching.” 

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Another 21% of the 8,400 teachers surveyed said they wanted schools to make their own decisions on phone use, while 6% volunteered to decide for themselves what students could bring into class.  

Interestingly, younger teachers – who were more likely to have grown up with cell phones themselves – were slightly more likely than their older counterparts to vote in favor of keeping the devices out of the classroom, with 69% of AOb members under the age of 31 approving of the ban compared to 62% of those older than 51. 

While the vast majority of teachers agreed that smartphones could be severely distracting in a classroom setting, some stopped short of supporting a ban because phones can be used in schoolwork and are sometimes needed to access school networks. 

School boards were less sanguine about the idea of a ban, according to the union, which found that just 52% of board members supported it.   

Some schools already have a ban in place, but the idea has become more popular nationwide since it was proposed by a group of MPs in November. The lawmakers based the idea on research by the DUO education bureau that found smartphone use in class correlated with poorer reading skills and lower grades.

Diminished student concentration isn’t the only risk posed by phones in class. In 2020, an 18-year-old was arrested for threatening a high school teacher online after a student shared a photo of a cartoon depicting the Muslim Prophet Mohammed on Instagram and Snapchat. The case bore similarities to the murder of French schoolteacher Samuel Paty, who was killed after the parent of one of his students posted a video on social media complaining about Paty showing a cartoon of the Prophet in class.

April 12, 2023 at 02:57AM

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