Why banning mobile phones in schools is not just stupid, it’s the most dangerous thing we can do!

One of the reasons I first started teaching, way back in the 1990s, was because the British Government had just updated one of the “Advanced Level” A-Level exams so that, for the first time, you could do a music A-Level with a synthesizer as your main instrument.

Now, I LOVE synths; twiddling a Moog filter is one of the joys that makes me the most happy!

But I had no idea how to play to A-Level standard so needed a teacher. And there weren’t any. One of the local teachers said to me, “Why do you want to learn THAT? No music has even been written for a ‘synthesizer.’” I was like, “Err, what about the whole top 40? That’s all on synths!” to which he replied, “Oh, that’s not music.”

Of course, nowadays, just about every composer starts their day on what we call a DAW – a Digital Audio Workstation. The technology has become a key part of the business & fundamental to the music, movies, and art that give you so much joy.

And it’s the same now with mobile phones.

Back when I first started teaching, after realizing I had to take over from the Luddite dinosaurs, the biggest challenge that older teachers had was resources. There weren’t enough books, maps, models, CDs, scripts, sound systems, projectors, computers; everything cost money and budgets were tight.

If you had said to them, “Look, here are maps of the entire planet, including your local town, in super high detail. Here are music scores of every Beethoven Symphony. Here are the complete works of Shakespeare. Here’s a full 3D model of the inside of the human body. In fact, look, here’s every song ever written, every book ever written, every symphony & sonata ever written, detailed maps of the entire solar system, every movie ever made, talking dictionaries for every language that ever existed, tutorials from every one of the world’s leading experts in every subject, copies of every grand master painting in super fine detail. And oh yeah, every kid in your class will have this in their pocket for basically free and can access it any time… Sound good?”

They would be over the moon! Budgets sorted instantly! Plus, all the other options of personalization, a full music studio and movie editing suite, being able to talk to anyone anywhere in the world for free, and it all being packaged in a super convenient form factor that you can take anywhere.

But what happened? Did we embrace this amazing technology?

Today the British Government issued guidance on how to BAN all of this in schools!!!!!

“It makes it too hard to teach,” they say. “Kids get distracted. We can’t expect teachers to control all this. Kids can’t focus.”

Well, of course! You’ve just given them everything any human could ever dream of.

But you don’t just ban it because you don’t know how to use it!

Like it or not, tech is the future.

And if we don’t teach our kids how to use it, then the tech will use them. (Don’t believe me, check your screen time and see how you’re already being manipulated!)

Tech elevates so many areas of learning, especially in languages but also in every other area. 3D equations can be so dull, but bring them to life by showing how the variables change the orbits of a spacecraft, and you’ve grabbed the attention of a whole bunch of other kids.

But instead, governments are choosing the opposite. They say that social media is causing so much harm. Well, yes, you’re not teaching the kids how to use the devices, so you’re leaving them to the social media giants, the scammers, the evil people in society. We have instructions on chainsaws and have compulsory driving lessons for a reason! You don’t just abdicate your teaching responsibilities by banning the devices and leaving the kids at the mercy of all the dangers.

That’s not just stupid & damaging to your economy (who’s going to provide the economic growth in your country if you have a tech-illiterate populace?) but it’s also dangerous. I’ve been online a LONG time, and I remember the first time I got death threats. It’s not a pretty sight. I was on holiday in Saipan, probably only the second holiday I took back then, and I can’t remember anything about it apart from standing in the shower being terrified. There was no one to teach me back then because we were the first generation to experience it online on our devices.

But you can teach it. If you get in a car or plane, you’re going to crash it, but if you learn to drive safely or pilot a plane with a great instructor, it can take you miles and miles.  Tech isn’t the whole focus of flying a plane or making a movie, it’s just part of it.  School is just the same; let’s teach the kids to use it in every class in the parts where it’s needed so we can spend more time on the human elements.   Let’s normalize it. Let’s use that tech power to elevate what we can achieve with education to whole new levels, to develop new economies and new ways of living that bring our standard of living even higher than it is now. When we normalize the tech, then when the next dangers come along, we’ll have teachers and peers around so the kids aren’t in their bedrooms facing it alone for the first time; they’ll be in school with a loving, caring community around them to teach them the tools to deal with whatever it is.

They know the tech, so they know how to deal with the tech.

Tech is what makes life better. Politics is what makes it worse.

Don’t be a dinosaur, don’t be a Luddite, don’t be that music teacher from 30 years ago telling me computers have no place in music, don’t be the one who leaves your kids to the mercy of social media because you abdicated your responsibility to educate & banned the devices.

Instead, be the one who wants to build a better place, to keep our kids safe and use the amazing tech for what it’s designed for, not to be slaves to social media but to elevate all our lives and education to amazing levels we can’t even imagine right now!

Be genki,


Richard Graham

Hello, I'm Richard Graham. When I was a kid I found school to be sooooo boring... So I transformed my way of teaching. I listened to what the kids were really wanting to say and taught it in ways they really wanted to learn. The results were magical. Now I help teachers just like you teach amazing lessons and double your incomes!