A Huffington Post article posted 7/10/2012 by Andres Jauregui talks about the firing of a Yoga instructor, Alice Van Ness, from Facebook because she asked her adult students to put away their cell phones during class. In the article, one quote was very striking: Ms. Van Ness said to a San Francisco Chronicle reporter: “The culture of these places is to let them do whatever they want,” she told the paper. “And I’m just not really okay with anarchy.” Years ago in high school I remember having a long drawn out discussion about the pros and cons of anarchy. The teacher at the time was really interested in having the students talk about what was positive and negative about placing an individual’s needs above or below the needs of a group. This is really what Ms. Van Ness is referring to and it is an excellent way to explain the lesson. Group Yoga relies on group meditation, on the participation of each individual to create a group energy that in turn empowers everyone in the group. A cell phone ban is really a tool that is being used to help students focus on their work and performance. In the case of Yoga taught to a group of Facebook employees, the goal probably was to increase focus and group energy without using technology. Ironically, Ms. Van Ness was just doing her job well. Back in high school when our teacher was trying to teach us about anarchy he lacked anything that any of us could use to understand the concepts. Talking about the Soviet Union and the PRC seemed so far away and unimportant to our lives. Cell phone anarchy on the other hand is something every high school student can now understand and relate to. Educators, parents and coworkers also all understand cell phone anarchy. Cell phone anarchy puts the immediate needs of the individual above the group, above even direct relationships with friends and loved ones. This is something we all live with everyday. Personally, I am cell phone neutral. These are simply tools. It is the behavior that is the problem. The Facebook Van Ness story is an excellent way to discuss cell phone usage and explain anarchy to our students in the fall. Used in this way a cell phone is an excellent tool for any teacher!
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