Educate youth

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Over the years, there has been an attempt by our government to educate our youth. Our youth, on the other hand, does not always see this as a top priority. Instead they are distracted by activities not considered academically worthy, such as cell phones, passing notes, television, Sudoku, music, gum, "boobie bracelets," clothing, food, and doodles. This could be a concern for parents and school administrations. Not all of these distractions are new "problems," and no doubt you once had your own distractions in school.

One of the oldest school time distractions is the classic passing of notes. Since students are not allowed to communicate with each other during class time, they find alternative methods to chat. Passing notes is so popular that there are even several articles written on WikiHow (“Class Distractions”).

With the invention of cell phones, passing notes has fallen out of fashion. For students, texting is simpler and much faster. Although some teachers are completely against cell phone use in school, others are indifferent towards them (Sussy). One professor states “bored students generally distracted themselves with doodling, passing notes, whispering and giggling, about anything that came to mind. Today, with what seems to be endless wireless technologies and the ubiquitous cell phone, students have other means to distract themselves or cure boredom.”

This leads into the argument that cell phones are bad for schools. Cell phones are distracting, can be used for cheating, get stolen, and be used to share illicit pictures (Kwan, Michael. "Cons of Cell Phones in School.") They also can be used for cyber bullying, ‘predators', and even text-related injuries. (Sabella). Some students are so adapt at using their cell phones that they don't even need to look at them to type (Sussy). WikiHow also addresses how to get away with texting during class (WikiHow).

On the other side, there is an argument that cell phones can be helpful. Cell phones today have become electronic super tools. They can be used for instant communication, such as between child and parents. Sports coaches also contact students this way. According to Michael Kwan in her article “Pros of Cell Phones in Schools”, she says they can be used to take pictures in classes such as science, and is also helpful for remembering step by step procedures.

Cell phones aren't the only electronic device schools have to watch out for. Mp3 players are also becoming more compact, and with the invention of bud earphones, it has become exceptionally easy for students to disguise their actions. This is yet another topic covered by WikiHow (WikiHow).

Some schools promote the use of school uniforms for various reasons. One is to avoid distractions brought on by regular home-clothing (Caines). A primary fear amongst teachers is the sexual appeal certain tight fitting or revealing clothing girls wear, which can be a distraction especially to hormonal teenage boys. Also there is to an extent a need to keep up with the fashion industry. With school uniforms, these concerns are removed, and even help promote a professional looking environment. As an added bonus, a closer level of social equality is achieved, based on the fact that a student's choice in clothing will result in a topic for bullies to accuse others of.

Another certain article of ‘clothing', or more closely jewelry, is the concern over ‘I Boobies' bracelets. These bracelets are a product of the Keep a Breast Foundation to help fund a cure for breast cancer (Wayland). Considered to be a sexual innuendo by some members of the school board, they are also considered a distraction. Although this may be more of a distraction for teachers than students. U.S. judge Mary McLaughlin decided in a free-speech case filed in Pennsylvania by the American Civil Liberties Union that “Breast cancer fundraising bracelets that proclaim “I (heart) boobies!” are not lewd or vulgar and can't be banned by public school officials who find them offensive” (Associated Press). Most students claim that the bracelets are not a distraction, and are really with the intent of supporting a cure for breast cancer.

Another long time issue of the classroom, also covered on WikiHow, are doodles. Teachers see this as students being distracted from the task on hand, but research shows that doodling can actually help improve memory recall (Maron). A test was given to 40 adult volunteers where they listened to a mock phone message about a party. Half the volunteers were told to doodle by filling in random shapes and write down mentioned party members' names, while the other half was not given that option. A surprise memory test was given after completion to show what they remembered. The results showed that the group who were told to doodle had better recall than the non-doodling group. The professor who conducted this exam believes that it helps focus the mind by stimulating it with light activity, and also presenting a visual aid. He also says he may be more willing to let his students doodle during classes, but texting is still just a distraction.

School discipline over doodling can vary based on the circumstances and teacher. In one case, a 12 year old student from the Junior High School in Forest Hills, New York was arrested for doodling (Chen). The likelihood of such action is due to the fact that her chosen location to doodle “I love my friends Abby and Faith. Lex was here 2/1/10 :)” was on a school desk, making it destruction of school property. Still, it raises a concern to the harsh actions schools can take when trying to discipline students.

Although even more distractions exist outside of school, these are just some of the major distractions in schools. No matter what is done, if a student is not entirely enthralled by the learning material, they with inevitably encounter a distraction. A distraction brought by themselves, other students, or by their environment. These will continue to persist, but for the mean time, we may be able to curb some of these to our advantage.