Speak Now

Student, teacher evaluate how participation has decreased within BV

Speak Now

Regan Byrnes, Web Editor

The painful silence within a classroom after a teacher proposes a question, trying to engage in an academic conversation is a classic and unique rite of passage every high school student must experience. 

Though it seems these long, drawn out silences are becoming more common due to various reasons, junior Molly James believes it could be how younger classes were affected by the Covid-19 lockdown. 

“Coming back from online learning was different [because] you didn’t have to participate when you were on Zoom,” James said. “Especially my class, we didn’t start off high school knowing how to participate normally in class.” 

James tries her best to stay present in class but admits it can be extremely difficult when her classmates refuse to engage in activities. 

“There’s some classes that I’m like, ‘Man, it’d be nice if more people would talk. [It] would make this a lot less painful,’” James said. “A way we could encourage other people is having more collective and collaborative learning. I feel like sometimes everyone feels like they’re on their own to learn, but working together and talking stuff out more would definitely be helpful.”

Though James is continuously annoyed by the lack of class involvement from her peers, she feels disappointed for the teachers who have taken the time to create exciting lesson plans, only for nobody wanting to partake in the activity. 

“A teacher is up there [and] they want somebody to talk to — they want someone to answer their questions. I definitely feel bad if you just sit there and don’t do anything,” James said. “They obviously want you to interact with them because that’s kind of how learning works.”

Furthermore, speech and debate teacher Chris Riffer admits it’s more difficult to get students to engage in discussions now than it was before the lockdown.

“That period of time with Covid — we were just ourselves, we were away from people it became very easy to get into a bad rut of not being around people or not conforming to another schedule,” Riffer said, “That’s not a universally bad thing, but it does tend to pull us away from engaging in the community at large — some people just haven’t gotten out of those habits.”

Though student participation won’t increase drastically any time soon, Riffer believes everyone is making progress by inserting themselves back into social environments.

“As human beings, we need to engage with each other — not virtually, but face to face, person to person,” Riffer said. “It’s not only important for our mental health, but it’s true for our societal health that the more we engage with each other, the more we invest in our society and in each other, [valuing] our shared fates.”