In this month’s questionnaire, Sherry Turkle discusses principals reclaiming the power of conversation, cellphone bans in schools, and her favorite book. Sherry is the Abby Rockefeller Mauzé Professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology in the program in Science, Technology, and Society at MIT. She is also a thought leader at the 2017 National Principals Conference in July.

How can principals help reclaim the power of conversation in an age of technology?

By creating no-device “sacred spaces” in school environments that are set aside as conversation-only places. When we are interrupted by our devices, we attend less to each other. We become less empathic. We turn the conversation to more trivial matters and we feel less connection to each other.

In what specific ways can principals use new technology to enhance communication?

For the moment, I think our challenge is to learn to put aside technology to enhance communication. We need to learn to look at each other in the eye, to attend to body language. We need to relearn the art of the significant apology. And perhaps most of all, to attend to each other, we have to learn to attend to ourselves, to be content with our own thoughts. If we can’t gather ourselves to ourselves, we can’t hear what someone else has to say. We project onto them what we need them to be saying to buttress our fragile sense of self.

What is your favorite sports team and why?

The Red Sox. There can be no why.

What is your favorite book and why?

The Harry Potter books, because I read them to my daughter and she reads them back to me. It is a profound experience.

What’s your educational philosophy?

Read. Talk. Listen. Imagine. Create.

Should cellphones be banned in schools? 

Cellphones should be banned in all classrooms and dining areas. Those are places for talking. Students should be able to consult phones in halls, lounge spaces, and other designated areas.

What’s the most important benefit and biggest drawback of technology in secondary schools?

Technology brings us in contact with people and experiences all over the world, with people we would never meet. That is wonderful. We need to take advantage of this without living a life of constant distraction.

If you could change one thing about secondary schools, what would it be?

The fantasy that it is a good thing to put the curriculum on a tablet.

Who is your favorite movie star and why?

Benedict Cumberbatch. His Alan Turing and his Hamlet were masterpieces.

What’s your motto?

Do the best you can. Then have no regrets.