Belmont Hill’s Technology Restrictions

Richie Kendall and Charlie Donahue

As you probably noticed, Belmont Hill has made serious changes regarding technology since last year.  Included in this are a number of new restrictions, particularly on YouTube.  While in theory this is a good way for the school to prevent students from using the internet unproductively, there are inherent flaws with this system of regulation and with the policy itself.  The system often fails to serve its intended purpose.  And upon further examination, it becomes clear the restrictions actually detract from the school’s mission of ingraining important skills like time management.

The new, stringent system has blocked educational videos. This poses problems for students and teachers alike.  Oftentimes, videos are used in class and for homework, but it is now almost impossible to access these materials.  If a teacher sends out a video to watch, it is usually restricted by the school.  To circumnavigate this block, a student must request that the teacher approve.  This is a time-consuming process.  At Belmont Hill, we are already pressed for time as it is, and approving videos can take 15 minutes.  For example, during a recent Form IV biology class, students were tasked with watching a YouTube video upon completing a quiz.  However, the video was blocked.  Approving it ate up much of the remaining class time. Most of us did not get to watching the video.  Additionally, when doing homework during a free period, a student is oftentimes unable to watch a video, tacking on even more work a student must complete at home.  Overall, the YouTube restrictions consume valuable school time, contrary to their purpose of forcing students to be more productive.  

In addition to taking precious time out of the school day, this new policy is contradictory to what Belmont Hill should aim to teach boys.  One of the greatest skills that can be acquired through a prep school education is time management.  Like the majority of other life skills, this is something that must be learned on one’s own, through careful practice and repeated decision making.  Under the old system, students had more internet freedom and, therefore, more responsibility.  They could choose to be unproductive with their time, sacrificing leisure time and sleep.  Speaking from personal experience, students learn to be productive quickly.  In life beyond Belmont Hill, there will be distractions, but there won’t be someone to hold our hands.  In its attempt to improve productivity among students, the school is setting us up for a rude awakening in college and beyond. While this article may slightly overstate the long-term consequences of this singular policy, the core principle holds true. The cumulative effect of such policies hampers preparation for life beyond Belmont Hill. In thirty years, most of us won’t remember chemical properties or quotes from The Scarlet Letter.  Skills like time management, however, will be utilized on a daily basis.  

Therefore, we urge Belmont Hill to scrap these ineffectual restrictions and help students learn what will serve them best.   

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