Sydney private school bans Apple iPods

“The teenagers’ gadget of choice, the iPod, has been banned by a Sydney private school because they lead to ‘social isolation.’ The principal of International Grammar School, Kerrie Murphy, said her decision to ban the palm-sized stereos, which can hold up to 10,000 songs, coincided with the international debate on how ‘people were not tuning into other people because they’re tuned into themselves.’ She was also worried that students using iPods could not hear teachers, that the iPods put stress on ears when played at high volumes and were a security risk. ‘They allow students to avoid communication with others and may lead to social isolation or escape from our community,’ she told parents in a letter last week,” Linda Doherty and Jordan Baker report for The Sydney Morning Herald.

“Mrs Murphy said yesterday that significant numbers of her Ultimo secondary school’s 500 students had shown up at the start of new year with iPods, presumably given to them as Christmas presents,” Doherty and Baker report. “‘I think iPods are fantastic, they’re brilliant pieces of technology but kids don’t need them at school,’ she said.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Banning is always nice, but what if the school had actually tried to incorporate the popular iPod into the curriculum instead? You know, like Duke University? Oh wait, that might have encouraged learning and increased participation instead of fostering resentment and also would have required creative thought by a school principal. Silly us!


  1. Incorporating the iPod into the curriculum hardly works (or at least isn’t a sure thing, see this article: for college freshman. It’s even less likely to work with younger kids. Also, a vast number of students may already have iPods, but what about those that don’t? In this case, I doubt it would make good fiscal sense for the school to buy the extras, and definitely not worth making the parents buy them!

    magic word: normal. as in, It’s perfectly normal and OK to *not* have an iPod! I do love mine though!

  2. Yes, you could probably label me an Apple fanatic, but I’ve gotta agree with this. Not for the interaction…I think most of the socialization learned at school is negative (sorry, that’s another story) but they’re there to learn, not listen to tunes. They’d get much more out of reading a book than listening to music. Sorry I can’t site them right now, but yes, studies have been done and reading comprehension is lower with ambient distractions; so you can’t pull the listening while they read thing either. BTW I’m a music teacher and I’m saying all this.

    Obviously the presence of this many iPods has been detrimental to the school’s educational goals. Therefore, they’re in the way. Schools don’t TYPICALLY go around banning things just for the hell of it.

    MDN, when you’ve got a school administration degree, education degree, and several years experience in both capacities, I’d love to hear your take.

  3. I totally agree with this decision. Music players have no place in grammar or high school. It absolutely shuts people out. Every time I see someone walking down the street talking on a cell or headphones on, it reminds me what a strange society we live in. People tuning out is not good for an evolving culture. Oh, I’m one of those who is in favor of making talking on cell phones illegal while driving in every state unless an emergency exists. Why the hell people can’t just enjoy life, other people, nature, and all the other great things life has to offer is beyond me. Turn up the music and the world melts away creating more sociopaths. OK, maybe I’m exaggerating, but you get the idea.

  4. I suppose the iPod can promote isolation, but it can also do just the opposite. In fact, in many cases I think it makes it easier for people to be social. For example it can be kind of an ice breaker, “Hey, nice iPod”, “What are you listening to on your iPod?”, “What music do you listen to?” etc…

    You can isolate yourself or become more social, it depends on the person, not the technology. An isolationist is going to find a way to be anti-social regardless of whether he has an iPod or not. The iPod just makes it easier to be who you already are. Banning the iPod just shows their ignorance.

  5. Unless all students were given an iPod, à la Duke, iPod related learning enhancements wouldn’t be possible. With this in mind, the ban seems pretty logical.

  6. Anti-social behaviour gets a bad rap. I wish more people would shut the fsck up about their mundane, boring, meaningless bullshit lives and slap on a pair of iPod earbuds (and put a bag over their ugly mug, too). I’m sick of hearing idiots yap away unceasingly and I’m sick of looking at their fat, bloated, stupid faces while their traps flap ad infinitum.

    – Written while listening to my iPod at full blast during class. Fsck you!

  7. I agree with those that say that the iPod has no place in education, but instead of banning it, they should just enforce a rule that it must not interfere with the education. Just like Cell phones in schools – cell phones can be very advantageous for students to have, but only as long as they don’t have them on during class. I had a one hour study period during school, and sometimes I would listen to music while I did homework – I can’t see any harm in something like that. Banning just seems to be an excessive measure.

    I think you’re view of the cell phone is a bit extreme. You say “Why can’t people just enjoy…other people” etc., but that is exactly what they are doing when they are on the cell phone. They are enjoying the conversation with the person they are talking to, which might be a conversation about how great nature and life is. Personally, I’m not going to strike up a conversation with some stranger on the street, so it doesn’t bother me if they happen to be listening to headphones as they pass me.

    Now, there is nothing I hate more than hearing a person on their cell phone in a restaurant or theater or other, but I don’t think it’s indicative of the strange society in which we live. Yes, it shuts people out, but would they really be talking to everyone anyway? What are they going to talk about, the weather? Most conversations are extrememly pointless the way it is, why not enjoy your personal time with headphones and if you want some company, call your friend on your cell and have a meaningful conversation instead of mindlessly bantering about the weather or sports or some other subject that you really don’t care about.

  8. iPod didn’t come out until my first year of college, but when I was in high school, we weren’t allowed to bring walkmans, cell phones, etc. because they were considered “distracting” even though only an idiot would actually try to listen to a CD DURING class.

  9. “Escape from our Community”, I think there are far greater risks for youth escaping from our community than the ipod. Pretty amazing though. It certainly speaks volumes for the power of the ipod. I heard they were banning Creative’s mp3 players because they caused Brain damage. Now thats a worry!!

  10. Another bashing from (sad bloggers) MDN. You’re not at your first one today are you?
    lets bash our mums, teachers and professors who decided to restrict and ban things for our own good. Let’s start bashing the parents of MDN bloggers and see how they feel about it.
    One thing they missed doing to them, is restricting them from having creamy desert whenever they told or repeated something stupid like they do it today.

    Peace out punks

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