The Great Hall Offline

By Peter Bloch

This week, Corbet Clark, Head of Upper School, proclaimed that we would have a Tech-free week in the Great Hall. Overall, there have been mixed reactions towards this change.

As part of National Unplug Day (March 3rd), OES has decided to make our biggest meeting space, The Great Hall, a tech free area, meaning students and faculty are prohibited from using cell phones, cameras, and laptops within the space. Officially, this policy has never been enforced, but it has been quite successful nonetheless. This movement was spearheaded by Dana Mosher-Lewis, Spanish teacher and DC representative, and Kara Tambellini, Dean of Students, with support and execution from Corbet Clark, our fearless leader. Supposedly, this has been a hot topic during recent faculty meetings, with teachers advocating for and against the screen-free week in the Great Hall.

Personally, I have enjoyed my tech-free time. Instead of procrastinating on my homework during my free blocks, I end up playing cards with friends and teachers (which is still procrastination). I find the tech-free atmosphere relaxing and stress-relieving. I know I am not the only one, as during open blocks, after school, and during activity periods, I have seen students grabbing a hot beverage, and playing a couple rounds of UNO.

Honestly, I fail to find a reason I would actually need to use my computer in the Great Hall (except when I am printing my english homework at the last minute). For the most part, if someone needs to use a computer, they can go to the library, where it is not only quieter, but where there are multiple rooms set aside for solo and group work for classes. In fact, this work need is the exact reason our library exists.

I think we should continue this trend of tech-free spaces, but only on special occasions. It’s impractical to suspend technology usage in our Great Hall indefinitely, because the message of unplugging would be lost. However, I think we can definitely learn a thing or two from this week’s attempt. Firstly, OES students are very good at UNO. More importantly though, we need to value our social interactions above our social media profiles. The genuine happiness in the room was tangible at times, and it serves as a reminder that we all have the power to entertain ourselves.

A week per month of a no-tech Great Hall might be excessive, but days at a time is not enough achieve the desired effect, as some students might be busy studying for a test that day. The camaraderie between students as we re-enter “The Dark Ages” has certainly been a positive shift, and I propose we repeat this event annually to remind ourselves of both our dependence and independence of technology (and also how to win at UNO).

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