SMARTPHONE FREE CLASSES AT BTJ YIELD FIRST-RATE RESULTS
Four years ago, Boys Town Jerusalem became one of the first Israeli public schools to introduce voluntary “no smartphone” classes for students who commit to leave their phones at home. The results speak for themselves. Not only have students’ grades and motivation improved, but interpersonal relationships have strengthened and flourished.
The smartphone ban is only one element of a new type of classroom environment developed to foster excellence. Any student from grades 7-12 can opt for the special merit classes, regardless of his grade point average.
“The essence is a voluntary commitment to self-discipline and personal responsibility,”explains Principal Rabbi Elimelech Yaakov, who spearheaded the initiative. “We are cultivating tomorrow’s leaders.” According to Rabbi Yaakov, the class structure is inspired by training sessions for elite IDF combat unit recruits.
“A voluntary commitment to separate from your phone and devote eight to ten hours a day to studies sounds almost surrealistic,” the rabbi admitted. “Happily, the results of these classes are undeniable: students fight to enter and remain in this framework, grades are improving, matriculation scores are on the rise, and discipline issues are nonexistent.” Arguably, the best outcome – personal interaction among students – has dramatically increased. “Kids without phones talk to each other and play together at recess,” reports 9th grader Yonatan Ben Hamo.”
Beyond the academic demands of the smartphone-free classes, a range of extra-curricular activities are aimed at character building and social consciousness. From helping farmers harvest fruits to meeting with parents of fallen soldiers, students are encouraged to contribute to society.
“The classes are raising the bar for achievement,” Rabbi Yaakov declares.
“We’re seeing many cases of students from low socioeconomic backgrounds being pulled up scholastically by the momentum.”
This upcoming school year there will be two smartphone free classes at every grade level. The progress of Boys Town Jerusalem’s innovation is being closely followed by educators across Israel.
Before the new school year starts, our boys need help getting school supplies. You can buy them pens and pencils. Click here to get started.