Cellphone Bans: Education’s Distraction From Its Own Institutional Decay

Sunil Singh
3 min readApr 30, 2024


My Province has thrown a Hail Mary to regain control of education. Not only does Ontario not have the Doug Flutie arm to score a touchdown for a decomposing system — littered with teacher/student absences, unchecked mental health issues, and a mathematics curriculum that will put students further back into the 20th century — they simply cannot win.

It’s too late in the game. In figurative terms, they are down by double-digit points and there is less than one minute left to play.

Let’s get something straight. WE all need to be disconnected from our phones/social media — not just students. More physical activity, more time outside, and more meaningful social connections should be the priority for better mental health.

But the cellphone bans will only amplify the hollowness of the education system, which is now simply existing on compliance and control.

Kids aren’t learning because of going to school, they are learning in spite of going to school.

Education: A Fighting Ostrich

Cellphones and social media have disrupted our lives, education’s reactions have been whatever the opposite of revolutionary is…

Even as far back as ten years ago, a death rattle was being sounded.

Education, sadly — but to nobody’s surprise — was deaf to any changing landscape of learning. You would think that education operates as though the internet was never invented, hustling out content as though it’s the only player on the block.

Let’s fast forward to later this year when the ban goes into place. Let’s picture that classroom. One, I foresee absenteeism to get even worse. If schools cannot first be a safe place of belonging — the first thing kids look for — why would you come?

Because you have to.

That’s the last arrow left in education’s quiver of relevance. You simply must come now to get your credits, a historically arbitrary assigned number of tokens to show you are ready to graduate. It’s 30 credits. A number that pays more homage to societal fixation with base 10 numbers than do anykind of pedagogical reasoning for it. 29 credits? Nope. You can’t graduate. You might have to go to summer school and take civics or food and nutrition.

Then you will be whole.

So now these high school classrooms, for example, have no cellphones. Do you really, really, really, really think that the students are going to pay even more attention now, be even more captivated by lessons — especially if they are dry and irrelevant to students?

Nope. It might be a quiet classroom. But, it will be quiet because of institutional compliance and not because they are doing anything interesting in, let’s say, mathematics.

It’s back to basics in Ontario. It’s back to the 20th century. Where authority and colonialism rule.

Schools aren’t interested in auditing their own engagement — they haven’t been doing it for decades. They are only interested in auditing that of students who, not coincidently, were never consulted on this ban.

Education isn’t for them. Education is for respawning its own power structure — even if it means that no meaningful, humanizing relevance to that power. As such, education is meant for politicians, whose physical and philosophical radius from the classroom is terminally pathetic.

Go ahead. Ban the phones. Make no changes to the direction your luxury liner is going. Ignore all warnings. Don’t attend to the burgeoning mental health issues with students and teachers. Don’t confront the unchecked anachronisms of content and assessment that have built up like mildew in your classrooms.

Your destination awaits.