Schools Worldwide Taking Different Approaches to Pokemon Go

(Photo: Flickr, Creative Commons)

(Photo: Flickr, Creative Commons)

Schools are attempting to find ways to keep the wildly popular mobile app Pokemon Go out of their classrooms. In the new technological age it was already difficult to keep students off their phones and focused on the class, but Pokemon Go has added a new level of distraction for the students.

As Joe Mullins writes for ars Technica UK, France’s education minister is asking Niantic to keep rare Pokemon out of schools. Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, education minister of France, is worried that rare Pokemon in schools would be potentially distracting to students.

While France is trying to discourage the game within its schools, some have decided to try and use it to engage with students more. One teacher, in particular, plans to make writing assignments involving the new hit game:

Marissa Grodnick, an English teacher, said “Any time something becomes a big pop culture sensation, as a teacher I try to just kind of ride the coattails.”

The game came out when schools weren’t in session, reminds Christine McLarty writing for ABC27 News. This allowed teachers to plan for the incoming game but also presented some problems at the same time. Without first-hand knowledge of how the students would be dealing with the new distraction, there was limited knowledge about how to cope with it.

“We focus not necessarily on “the thing” but the way we deal with whatever the thing is and make sure once we’re in an educational environment that we’re focusing on learning. When they’re outside the education environment, they can do whatever they want to do.,” Says Dan Tredinnick, spokesman for Derry Township school district.

Niantic accepts requests to remove Pokestops and Gyms, game elements involving real life locations, from its game. However, they require evidence that they are causing significant problems, and with the game released during the summer before the school semester started there is little evidence to provide.

The Pokemon Go problem might not be that far-reaching yet, Solvejg Wastvedt notes for MPR news. For instance, the Minnesota Department of Education hasn’t yet received word from school districts worried about the Pokemon Go distraction problem. However, it could only be a matter of time:

Lana Yarosh, a professor at the University of Minnesota, says “You’re going to have kids that actually start thinking about this critically and developing these resilience skills for the rest of their life so that maybe then when they go home they can think about, ‘OK is now the time to play Pokémon? Is now the time to do homework?”

In other countries there is an attempt to completely eliminate the Pokemon Go problem, writes Joseph Tristan Roxas writing for GMA news. Allan Butch Francisco, a councilor in Quezon City in Philippines, has filed a resolution to prevent the game being played in schools and government offices. It has been noted that there is opposition to Pokemon showing up in certain landmarks in the US, though this is the first sweeping ban of it’s kind.

Mandaue City, another city in the Philippines, already has a resolution regarding the game. In this case, it is merely to warn pedestrians and motorists to while actively on the move for safety reasons. Should this not solve the issue, however, and should Quezon City’s ban go into effect, there may be a more restrictive resolution to come.