Saved by the Bell?

Why switching the typical routine might be beneficial.

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Saved by the Bell?

Syd Cole, Reporter

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Habits.  Brushing your teeth.  Nail Biting. Playing with hair.  Habits are behaviors become automatic.  They can form unconsciously and hold a significant impact on how we dictate our lives.  Without habits, we would be unable to function, for they allow us to grow by creating learned patterns.  In developing habits, it gives the brain the capacity to learn new things by requiring less energy for those already learned.  The problem with this is when habits transcend into something destructive.

The entire structure of our school day has become something habitual to all students.  Schedules have become second nature. Seating charts memorized. At the sound of the bell, many students find themselves standing in almost a knee-jerk reaction.  This brings up many points of concern, most prominently, the bell’s resemblance to pavlovian conditioning.

Ivan Pavlov was a physiologist who was researching the salvation response of dogs upon being fed.  He found that the dogs didn’t just salivate at the presence of food in front of them, rather he found that the same response was elicited by the footsteps of the person bringing the food.  In his studies, he found that a reaction was triggered by associating a sound with a reward, and even upon the removal of the end product, the same reaction will occur in unconscious anticipation.

In a similar fashion, students unconsciously register the bell with movement or exit.  When a teacher holds students after the bell to finish the lesson, they are often met with tension and anxiety as students find themselves unable to perform the expected outcome.  But with the way our school system is set up, this is unavoidable, for it’s impossible not to hear the sound of the bell.

A school without ringing bells.  It’s not a new concept, but it’s one we have yet to implement.  By removing the audible signal, it forces students to be accountable for their actions.  If Elkhorn continues to make the claim that they are adequately preparing students for the future then they should get rid of the bells, for there are no bells in life.

In a more concerning manner, the bells also represent the segmentation and gaps within our learning.  Nowhere in the real world do you find learning sectioned off as it is in school. Everything we learn is interconnected.  Scientists use both math and geography to aid their research. Historians use English, among other languages, to convey their work.  MC Escher was an artist who made mathematically inspired pieces. How is this concept implemented in a school day split into seven distinct periods?

The educational system is flawed.  That’s not a new concept. But at the same time, we have seen very few attempts to make significant change.  For as long as Elkhorn has been open, we have maintained a similar school structure. This seems concerning considering the ever-changing state of the educational system.  We are far more advanced than ever before. As odd as it might seem, maybe we should consider removing the bells.