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LETTERS

With smartphone ban, Mass. school might just put its finger on a new approach

Head of School Peter Beck (center) sat with students during lunch break at the Buxton School in Williamstown on June 9. The school plans to eliminate smartphones in the upcoming school year.Carlin Stiehl for The Boston Globe

A story on Sunday about a plan at the Buxton School in Williamstown to ban smartphones from campus this fall generated about 150 comments on BostonGlobe.com. Although the private boarding school’s policy will apply to students and teachers alike, most readers focused on students’ technology habits. The following is a curated, edited sample of the conversation that unfolded online:

I taught tech in Boston for over 24 years, retired now, and I applaud this (“Silent screen: School says no to smartphones,” Page A1, July 17). Technology is a great tool — typewriters? accounting paper? — but it is now a tremendous distraction. It takes attention away from the job at hand: learning. At the end of my career I implored my students to put down their phones, make meaningful relationships, get to know each other. (posted by rkiley2)

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I see lots of junior high students, in particular, walking or sitting in groups, and each head is down gazing at a screen. I wonder what constitutes a “friend” for this age group. (UpNoth)

Brilliant. These student will find out in 10 years how lucky they were to go to this school. (california224)

Hopefully these kids already feel lucky to be attending this school. Beautiful campus, small school population, and lots of adults who really care a great deal about the type of young adults they are developing. Love this policy and hope it works out. (NANDOROCK)

It is not the students’ fault that they don’t realize how insidious their minicomputers are, but when they have the opportunity to be without them, they will benefit. (PBTCO)

I don’t have a smartphone or a cellphone of any sort. I can’t tell you how many people treat me like I’m a threat to society. They can’t imagine how I exist. I say that I exist the same way I have all my life. I talk to people. If I make an appointment, then I show up. And I’m a very active 81-year-old. (Abramselaine)

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You are missing out on certain things, like spontaneous stuff with people. I’m not suggesting you should change, but limited phones are great. (swfoutsida)

Dropping smartphones has nothing to do with being a Luddite. We are all suffering from this easy-access addiction turning us into self-centered individuals where the only creativity is as deep as how many “likes” your farting dog (or teen fight) will generate. Most kids have no more tech talent than your mom. Remember when they actually knew how to build a computer from scratch? No more. (dovekie)

I retired as a math teacher at a public high school earlier than I had planned, and much of the decision revolved around the use of cellphones in the classroom. By refusing to enforce policies such as keeping them in the backpacks, administrators were relinquishing control to the students and/or parents. Over my 20 years, I saw students become less and less focused on the lesson at hand. And so public education, at least at the high school level, spirals downward. (MathTeacherPiLover)

Two public high schools in the Springfield area are going with the Yondr pouch program, where phones are locked up in a pouch that the students keep with them and are unlocked at day’s end. More cities and towns should consider it. (mainman1)

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The first time a student stopped me from erasing what I’d written on the blackboard so that he could take a picture of it on his phone, I was surprised. But he explained that he found it difficult to listen and to take notes and to look at the board at the same time, so I decided that that was a reasonable use for his phone in class. (eastgategirl)

Technology often changes faster than society can understand its effects. Video games and cellphones are two examples. Examining how technology affects society and making policy adjustments is in no way “pining for the good old days.” (ShankMan)

As a women’s basketball coach, my kids used to sing together to music on the bus ride home. Fifteen years later, it was stone silence as they texted their teammates in the seat ahead of them. All heads down. (not a homer)

As a teacher at a college, I can tell you that the biggest distraction source is when a student’s parent texts them in the middle of class. I’m sure that the helicopter/snowplow parents are going to complain the most about this policy. (Danskat)

This policy is a win-win for everyone, except of course the apps that track the students’ activity and target them for merchandise, events, etc. I’m a high school science teacher, and I believe that if the students really wanted to assess the social, emotional, economic impact of this policy, they can design studies and begin collecting data. They may even win awards based on this policy. (LeeMag)

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Tuition: $62,000 for a boarding student. Fewer than 100 kids in this high school. These are not my people (Spreewell)

Buxton is a great school, and the kids who attend are very fortunate. Let’s hope other schools, private and public, follow their example. (cronin30)

Three of us caught hell in the early ’70s when we simultaneously whooped and hollered in our Catholic school classroom. We were listening to the World Series on our transistor radios. With secret corded earphones, of course. (californiagalbostonroots)