Wednesday, October 14, 2009

"Magic Hole" and "Should Students Have Cell Phones"

Today was a very cell phone day, if there could be such a thing. Last Friday one of the Korean teachers in our office came in toting a new phone. It didn't look like anything special to me, but she spent 10 minutes trying to show me how amazing her new phone was. This phone had a strange circle on the front, which seems to do... not much of anything but light up and tell the time, it has an amazing button on the hinge that makes the phone pop open "magically" and, the big selling point, I think, is the fact that you can make video calls to other owners of the phone. I asked her what the phone was called and she replied "Magic Hole". Magic Hole? Really? Can you imagine selling a phone with that name in the US??? The jokes would be endless. Ok, whatever.

So Monday another teacher came in toting the same phone and the two of them were discussing how wonderful their new phones were and how great their blue colored phone was etc. etc. Today one teacher called the other teacher while they were in the office together to test out the video call function. I guess it's cool, but I wouldn't want to be walking down the street with it... it seems reminiscent of when those Nextel phones that were popular a few years ago... when everyone was walking down the street having conversations that everyone could listen in on. I could just imagine...

Then later today, in my Fly High Junior class (the same one we discussed future husbands and wives) we opened up to a new chapter in our writing books. I really like this book because it chooses really relevant topics that kids actually care about and don't mind writing about. Last chapter was "Should Students Have Part Time Jobs". Today's new chapter was "Students Should Have Cell Phones". While we were discussing the various points about cell phones, I brought up this "Magic Hole" phone. The kids explained to me that it really isn't a very good phone at all. It doesn't have TV, it doesn't have Mp3 and it doesn't have a big screen. Obviously those are the most important features in a phone. The kids were shocked to find out that my Korean cell phone doesn't have an Mp3 player, TV, Internet or even any games. I've had past classes tell me my phone is from 1996 (which is an insult coming from them, considering they were born around 2000).

Of the six children in the class, whose ages range from 4th grade -6th grade, only one 4th grader didn't have a phone. He said he survived alright without it, but he really wanted one. The other kids didn't know how one would survive without a cell phone. We talked about some reasons why adults don't think students should have phones. The first reason stated was about the harmful cell phone waves. That was surprising. Then they mentioned the typical things like distractions and cell phone costs. Then, "why should students have phones?", I asked. "Games" "TV" "Calling friends" "Mp3", then later "calling parents" finally came up. None of them mentioned their English-Korean dictionaries that they use all the time in class, nor was calling parents first on their list. One student did mention that if a kid got kidnapped, they could use the phone to call the police.

I'm always interested in how these kids view the world... I never cease to be entertained...


  1. I was required to get a cell in April 2007 by the head at my old school (but they paid for it). I was very resistant, since I had a real phone, a good computer, and clear view of the sky in case of smoke signals ...

    I don't even have a landline here. My cell has internet, mp3 and all that jazz, but I use it mostly for communication. And taking pictures (did any of your students mention that?) Dictionary, too, of course. Oh, subway map. I've used the calculator once or twice, come to think of it.

  2. surprisingly they forgot about the camera. I used to have one student who had a camera phone that had more megapixles than my old digital camera (that was only 4 or years old). Man, and the subway map... thats one function I wish I had... man my phone sucks somedays... I forgot about that one too...

  3. Hehehe, I just started teaching in Korea, and I bought a magic hole. I love the name, I laugh every time I pull it out. "Teacher, what time is it?" "Let my check my Magic Hole...*giggle fit*"

    My students are super impressed with it, because they think the games it comes with are really cool, apparently. But they also aren't very financially well off and have very old phones.

    I'm pretty sure it plays MP3s, I pressed a bunch of buttons and magically got a G-Dragon song downloaded to it.