By 8th grader Luca
This year, for the first time since Meridian was founded, cell phones and music are no longer permitted within school hours on school property. When the new rule was announced, there were many different responses from the Meridian student body. Many students felt that the teachers were doing this as punishment for past actions, but the faculty stated otherwise. The students had respected previous policies well, they said, but over the summer, teachers did research on how cell phones change the environment of schools and how listening to music while doing work decreases productivity. In order to explain this research to the school community, Science teacher Stephanie Kinkel and Humanities teacher Catherine Epstein created this animated video. We’re now about a month into the school year, and I checked in with my fellow Division 2 – or 8th grade – students to see how folks have been feeling about the policy.
The first person I talked to was Merrick, a new 8th grader at Meridian. She believes that this rule is actually helpful. “Not having your phone in front of you all the time really is less distracting. At my old school, everyone had their phones out and that made it a lot harder to not procrastinate.” Merrick also brought up that when it's enforced for everyone, it is much easier to follow. Some other students agreed with this point, saying that they don’t feel the pressure to always check their phone when they’re just not allowed to.
Although some students agree with the rule, many do not, including 8th graders Elliot and Noah. “It’s terrible! When I want to check the homework portal or use a calculator because I forgot my computer, I can’t!” Elliot said. “Plus, music helps me focus and get motivated to do my work! The rule is totally unfair.” Noah agreed that yes, music helps him drown out the people around him, and that it's a helpful tool. Merrick, along with 8th grader Lila, also mentioned that the banning of music during work time was the one part of the rule that really irritated them.
At this point, it seems that the controversy is less around whether or not students should be able to use their phones, but more if they can listen to music while they work. Many students say they just want to listen to music, citing that it is creative expression and it it helps them focus, relax, and feel motivated to work. The students and faculty will continue discussing the current policy, and students will have an opportunity to air their feedback at an all-school assembly in January.