—KATIE PARK ‘21
When I opened Mr. Waters’ email to check the schedule on the first day of school, I was puzzled. It was not because of the schedule, which has been the same since my third form year. Rather, it was because of the “Cell Phone Parking.” The short description of the new policy stated that students are now expected to leave or “park” phones on the rack in the center of the classroom.
So many thoughts instantly came to my mind. I did not like the way how the school was taking too much control over the usage of our phones. As young adults, it is our responsibility to take care of our learning, and we should also learn the consequences of the misuse of our phones. However, it has been a few weeks since we had the Phone Parking Policy, and the experience so far has been drastically different from my expectations.
The premise behind this new policy is to create an environment in which students can be most focused during class. It was based on a research about the effects of cell phones on learning. In a study published in the Journal of the Association for Consumer Research titled, “Brain Drain: The Mere Presence of One’s Own Smartphone Reduces Available Cognitive Capacity,” a group of students was given three options: phones on the desk facing down, phones in their bags, or the phones kept in a separate room. The result was that students who chose the third option learned the best and paid more attention during class because they were free from the temptations to use phones. After reading and discussing this research, the Academics Office decided to enforce the Phone Parking Policy.
I see many positive changes in the classroom climate. For instance, some of my teachers let us take a short break during the long block. In the past, my peers and I stayed on our phones until the end of the break. With our phones “parked,” we are more present to one another and have conversations during breaks. This atmosphere is also carried out during class discussions. Also, the school recognizes that phones can be a learning tool, so teachers allow students to grab their phones when needed.
It has only been a couple of weeks since the enforcement of the new policy, so there are mixed feelings regarding the policy. However, the main purpose of the new policy is to help students to learn better, so we should give it a shot and see how it slowly transforms our learning environment.