Elementary school offering parents dumbphones for their kids

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2024/03/04/dumbphones-for-school.html


Schools need to be re-imagined. The sage-on-the-stage format doesn’t work. Millions of Youtube videos have great presentations. Chalk on a board doesn’t cut it anymore.

Speaking as a teacher, who is also married to a teacher, and also someone who has put together a lot of online content for students, Youtube is not a replacement for school, especially Elementary school. Jesus Christ.


This sounds like a good plan. Without land lines, kids have to rely on other technology to communicate with other kids or even their parents. That other tech comes bundled with all sorts of other distractions that easily addict kids. I’d welcome a couple of dumbphones into the house for this purpose.

Meanwhile, my school district gives kids laptops starting in the 5th grade. Not as convenient to take around, but it’s still as addicting and problematic.


This is nothing new, my son’s primary school only allowed nokia dumbphones without cameras and his secondary school has banned all mobile phones except where there is a specific medical requirement


Schools are falling short of teaching kids. The use of smartphones is just a symptom of the cause. Schools don’t have interesting and or diverse curriculum. Most lessons should be hands on, in elementary school, instead they are just cheap babysitting.

OK ok, fair point, but what if we used an algorithm to determine what kids should learn? Sure, we might start with math but who knows where we will end up by the end of the day? Or jazz it up a bit, teach in a Spiderman or Elsa costume?

(There are all terrible ideas, I just wanted to make your eye twitch. :wink: )


Serious question - do you have kids?


You were the one pointing to freaking Youtube as an example of engaging curricula. That’s about as far from “hands on” as it’s possible to get.


PragerU would like to thank you for your support of the idea that would open the doors for them to begin the mass indoctrination of school children across the nation. Why stop at four states when you can force it into all fifty and completely replace teachers who might say something in the video isn’t true?


That’s a broad statement lacking in any real proof. Sure, there are teachers, schools, and districts who may be falling short in their teaching of kids, but there are various reasons why this happens in those areas. Meanwhile, there are schools that are doing a great job. Much of the time it comes down to resources and other major factors. Where the schools unfortunately come short the most are more impoverished areas due to a lack of funding for the schools as well as other environmental issues. Before you blame a “curriculum,” let’s make sure schools have all of the resources they need first and foremost.


I see no downside to having a generation of kids educated with YouTube. Joe Rogan can handle history, Andrew Tate can take wellness, Jordan Peterson has biology covered, and CocoMelon would cover the rest.

When is the last time you sat in on an elementary school classroom?


That sounds like an astonishingly blithe dismissal of the nature of the competition:

The competition between people who need to focus engagement on specific pedagogical objectives and people who are largely unconstrained in how they seek engagement and what it gets focused on is…not exactly…a balanced one.


It’s amazing how many people who have no experience or background in education assume they know how to do it better than actual educators.


Lessons should be hands on, but in reality most are not.

Videos are much better produced than some terrible drawing eked out with chalk or marker in a few minutes.

The tendency is for teachers to still spend half their time giving such terrible lessons.

For all the talk about hands on learning, experimental learning;
i) it’s the minority of classroom time,
ii) and not connected to learning, but simply drawing to waste time and babysit.

Hands on learning is best, well produced content is better than the instruction most teachers give.

Wealthy schools do it somewhat better.

We’re still stuck in a 19th century model of education.

In your educational experience, what percentage of lessons teaching reading to K-3rd grade should be “hands on,” and what is the current percentage?

Follow up question, in what way do you believe concentrating on YouTube videos would increase “hands on” learning?


You’re talking about two diametrically opposed methods of teaching. The so-called “well-produced content” you’re talking about is just a glorified way of saying “let’s plop the kids in front of the TV and hope they absorb something.”

There’s little if any room in a video-based curriculum to have anything approaching a true two-way dialogue, critical thinking, collaboration, hands-on exercises, real-time feedback and instruction, specific needs-based education, or the kind of spontaneity and happenstance that leads to teachable moments.

One thing slickly produced Youtube content is good at doing is convincing laypeople that they know a lot more about a given subject than they really do.


That is a terrible idea.


And lying. Very good at that