Setting the Pace

I enjoy being here. I enjoy living here. I enjoy working here. I think my independence at Andover has evoked more resourcefulness, self-reliance, and overall self-confidence in me. In some respects, I feel the rush I so regularly derive from independence may be endangered by the new Pace of Life report. In other respects, I feel the Pace of Life report will preserve my enjoyment of Andover and perhaps even strengthen it. I recognize that the balance between excessive limitations on student freedom and improvements of student routine is a difficult one to maintain. It is exceedingly difficult to determine where to strike a line between too much and too little freedom. I believe that our committee’s proposals with respect to Juniors constrain freedom too much. Forcing Juniors to remain in their rooms after 8 p.m. seems rather absurd from my perspective (I also wonder at the implications behind the report’s choice of words: “developmentally unable.”). Evening strolls down to the library at night are among some of my most serene and resplendent memories; sometimes I craved the change of scenery and an atmosphere without the distractions posed by my computer, telephone, relentless female suitors and CD player. Moreover, such restrictions may encourage Juniors to procrastinate until study hours to begin their work, if they know that they will have nothing else to do during that time period. Ironically, such a measure designed to relax the pace of life may make it more frenetic. As a Lower, I enjoy residing in a dorm with upperclassmen. Despite some tumult at first, I have been introduced to more people feel completely assimilated into the school. I am averse to the proposed idea of isolating Lowers into their own dorms or into Lower/Junior dorms. As a Junior, it could have been too great a shock to live in an upperclassmen’s dorm. But, as a Lower, I do not wish to be deprived of the heterogeneity of an Upperclassman dorm. If Andover is so proud of having such a diverse student body, why is it that the school wants to restrict exposure to such diversity? On another note, I am a strong proponent of the plan to reexamine the music, art, theater, athletic, and religion and philosophy requirements. In taking five and a half classes, with two AP’s, I find that time has become my most limited and valued commodity. As a result of my heightened course load, I learn much more from textbooks and so much less from my discussion with my classmates; the enticing notion of this sort of peer discussion was one of the major reasons why Andover was attractive to me as an applicant. Furthermore, the idea behind these requirements is to expose students to different disciplines, a noble pursuit on paper. Yet, other areas of school policy attempt to give students liberty in course selection, namely by requiring only two years of science and allowing us to drop one term of sports. Why stop here? On another note, let me ask: what exactly is amiss with specialization? PA seems to trust students to make the right decisions by letting them manage their own time, for the most part. Why not trust them to make the right decisions regarding course specialization or diversity? In addition, I wonder at the aim to limit phone and Internet use for academic purposes only during study hours. What about international students who can call home in odd hours of the night only? Is Andover taking the expression “in loco parentis” too far? Also, the proposition to increase classroom time presents a major pitfall. If we increase time in class, as the Pace of Life Committee suggests, instead of reducing homework, teachers may simply teach more material in each class, which would contradict the intended goal to spread the workload out over more time. On another note, it has been proposed that department heads should monitor and place space between the due dates of test and homework assignments. If this is instituted, they must make sure to observe teachers effectively; we all know that the magic of Dean’s Schedule can be less magical and more ineffective. Still, if carried out correctly, there could be great potential in improving pace of life in such an area. Although this was not mentioned in the report, I express some doubt at the reasoning for Mrs. Chase’s decision to maintain Saturday classes six times a year. Students are more likely to experience exhaustion with the instatement of Saturday classes. Furthermore, according to my views and to the international and local students that I’ve spoken with, Saturday classes do not, in fact, paint the picture that Andover is a seven-day-a-week, twenty-four-hours-a-day school. Students also might commit to more extracurricular activities if Saturdays can be devoted to special pursuits. As they are, six-day weeks seem almost pointless. Finally, I am enamored with the idea of reserving speakers and special events to Friday evenings and Sunday afternoons, two times of the week when I often find myself intellectually unoccupied and unstimulated. I cannot think of a better time for these special proceedings. As I have attempted to show, the pace of life question is a difficult business; there is no easy solution. It is imperative that we maintain our freedoms, but it is also imperative that we avoid excessive stress. We want Andover to be a sane passage between college and middle school, not reaching too far one way or the other. Above all, we must avoid reacting to and fustigating measures we deem unfair when it is too late, and, instead, explore them while they are being considered. For this reason, I urge everyone to visit the website on-line and comment on the Pace of Life report. If we all contribute to the discussion, I am confident that we can positively reform Andover for everyone now and all future generations–a noble pursuit if there has ever been one.