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Every classroom should embrace cellphone policy enforced by Cowboys’ Jason Garrett

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Exhausted by the devices that run our lives, Jason Garrett has bravely banned cellphones from meeting rooms.

As virtually every school teacher can attest, it’s one thing to actually ban a cellphone from a classroom, which only requires God-like powers to actually enforce the ruling.

As school begins, our thoughts and prayers go out to every single teacher and coach in America. Roughly 99.9% of you are not paid enough, and you are doing God’s work more than the rest of us who think we actually do something important.

Regardless of what you think of the Cowboys head coach, every parent should embrace his stance on cellphones: Get them out of the classroom.

“We don’t like to have cellphones in our meetings,” Garrett said when I asked him if he had a policy.

Two players said this is the first year Garrett has restricted phones from meetings. They are asked to leave their phones outside of the meeting room.

“There is a long history of studies done at the university level of your performance relative to where your cellphone is on your body,” Garrett said. “They’ve done tests where students are taking a test and they have a cellphone on and it’s turned up, and they don’t perform as well as students who have a cellphone on and it’s turned down.

“And they don’t perform as well as students who have cellphones in their pockets, and then in their bag, and then outside of the room and all that.”

According to a study published in the Educational Psychology journal, students who had “phones or laptops present while a lesson is taught scored five percent, or half a letter grade, lower on exams” than students who had no electronics present.

In the summer of 2018, the French government passed a bill 62-1 to ban cellphones in schools. Previously, the only thing the French government passed 62-1 was to surrender.

“The basic premise is,” Garrett said, “it can be a distraction to you when you’re trying to be focused on something else.”

Amen and amen.

THE NFL’S CELLPHONE PROBLEM

Having served as an adjunct professor for more than a decade, it’s impossible not to see the student’s eyes looking at their phones, no matter how sly they behave.

Like any great student, they don’t want to listen to the teacher anyway. A cellphone provides a fun distraction from the annoying noises coming from the teacher’s mouth, more commonly referred to as instruction.

Whatever problems teachers face as it relates to the cellphone, coaches fight the same fight.

Long-snapper L.P. Ladouceur is the longest-tenured Dallas Cowboy; he’s 38 and has been with the team since 2005. He is old enough to experience how phones have changed our lives, and a locker room.

“When I was at (the University of California), only a couple of guys actually had cellphones. I didn’t have enough money for one,” Ladouceur said. “I had a home phone.”

(Ask a kid what a home phone is).

“When I got to New Orleans (his first NFL team), then I saw some guys had two phones. And a few even had three,” Ladouceur said. “I never understood why. But guys had them in meetings.”

The question is whether or not they would actually look at them. It depends on the guy.

There are legendary stories about former Cincinnati Bengals receiver Chad Johnson actually taking calls during team meetings. University of Texas defensive back Kris Boyd infamously tweeted during halftime of a Texas blowout loss at TCU in 2015.

“When I was in college I would see guys looking at their phones during meetings,” Cowboys safety Kavon Frazier said. “But people who really love the game, they just don’t take it out during the meeting. Why would they? I always left it my backpack in my locker. I never felt like I was addicted to it.”

Former Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant was notorious for checking his phone, and social media, immediately after a game.

Typically, cellphones are a no-no during meetings; if it rings, the player gets in trouble, which, in the NFL, means a fine. As far as policies, it depends on the coach, or the teacher.

Pashchal High School’s policy is mostly left up to the teacher, but if electronics are confiscated the student must pay $15 to get it back.

AROUND JASON GARRETT’S CELLPHONE BAN

A teacher/coach can ban a cellphone, but the student likely has a laptop computer with them to use in class. Or the student is apt to lobby to use their phone, particularly if it’s a class involving math.

Teachers and schools often will fight parents who want to be able to reach their kid at any hour of the day, whether they are in class or not.

For a given meeting, NFL players typically have tablets of some type, which contains video of plays and the playbook for a given week. The problem is the tablet is often connected to the Internet, so if the player wants to surf the web during a meeting, not much is going to stop them.

“If you want to be distracted you can,” Ladouceur said. “But the meetings are only 30 minutes, and they have a break. They are not long, and you can reload. You can process a lot more information that way, so it’s not like a 3-hour class.”

The 49ers, in 2015, implemented a policy that allowed for cellphone breaks, or attend to whatever they need. First-year Arizona coach Kliff Kingsbury put in a similar plan with the Cardinals this season.

It is nearly impossible to find a study that shows focusing, concentrating or comprehending a topic are not negatively affected by the presence of a cellphone, or electronic device.

Garrett has done something more teams, teachers and schools should do: Get the phone out of the classroom, and let the teacher do their work. If the student is annoyed, they’ll live.

(Now, if you happen to be reading this on your phone in class, thank you very much and please put it down and pay attention to your instructor).

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Mac Engel is an award-winning columnist who has extensive experience covering Fort Worth-Dallas area sports for 20 years. He has covered high schools, colleges, all four major sports teams as well as Olympic games and the world of entertainment, too. He combines dry wit with first-person reporting to complement a head of hair that is almost unfair.
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