The MY (Middle Years) No Device Week, is exactly what it sounds like — a week of minimal screen time for middle years students.
Once every semester, for a week, students learn, play, and live without the assistance of technology. This year, No Device Week was the last week of August, from August 26 to August 30.
No Device Week was introduced a few years ago with the objective of giving students a break from their devices, enabling them to engage more with the world around them and do things they would not usually do.
Mr. Bob Smith, Head of Middle Years, believes this week is a great opportunity for students to “get out and play, read, and hang out with [their] friends.”
It gives them a chance to form better social connections and talk to people face to face instead of talking on social media platforms and “texting all the time,” Mr. Smith said.
Mr. Smith also pointed out how a break from social media helps students see the “unfiltered” side of things, and reflect on their own usage of social media.
During the week, the school also encourages Upper Years students as well as staff to avoid using their devices in areas accessible to Middle Years students. This helps maintain the device-free environment and prevents students from being tempted to use devices.
Before last year, MY students were allowed to have smartphones with access to the internet, however, due to changes in the school’s device policy, they do not have phones anymore.
A major concern among teachers and students is that this might affect schoolwork in a negative way.
Students think that theoretically, No Device Week is a great idea, however, in practice, “it makes it hard for [students] to keep up with schoolwork and a lot of people don’t even care [about these rules],” a Grade 7 student pointed out.
However, Mr. Smith argued that teachers plan and prepare classwork and homework assignments that do not require devices months in advance.
Mr. Smith also believes that this week is a tool for learning “in a different way.”
Ms. Ritika Roy, English teacher, thinks that the absence of devices aids in “better communication” and creates a necessary balance.
Ms. Ritu Seth, Hindi teacher, said that No Device week enables students to think, and challenges teachers to “come up with different ways to engage students in their learning.”
While many teachers expressed similar sentiments, there are some who believe that technology is a very important tool for learning in the 21st century, especially at a place like Woodstock.
Ms. Amal Cheyaheb, Spanish and French teacher, believes that the absence of technology makes it hard for both students and teachers to be productive because most of the schoolwork is online.
“It is when [she] first started teaching back in 1992, when it took forever to get through a lesson,” Ms. Amal said.
Although there is a lot of agreement about the importance of having a balance and having certain restrictions on the usage of devices, people disagree on whether or not No Device Week is a good means to achieve that balance.
Janvi Poddar is the Managing Editor of The Woodstocker
Photo by Knema Gardener
Edited by Archita Aggarwal