No-tech Tuesdays and Burt’s empty coop

Connecticut high school sets example by eschewing technology, and local man misses his fresh eggs

Head of Hyde School, Laura Gauld, with student Hope Eldridge

Head of Hyde School, Laura Gauld, with student Hope Eldridge

East Coast example
Woodstock, Conn.’s Hyde School is one Tuesday into its every-Tuesday-in-September moratorium-on-technology experiment.

The aim of the private high school’s No-Tech Tuesdays is to increase face-to-face interaction for everyone—teachers and students—at the school and sharpen social skills by suspending the use of all technology—cell phones (which Hyde students forgo normally), computers, eno boards and so on.

I spoke by phone with Laura Gauld, head of Hyde School, two days after the school’s first No-Tech Tuesday experience.

“The point was to try to help our students understand how technology moves us forward, and how it moves us back,” Gauld said. “As a 30-year educator, [I’ve seen] the obvious traps and addictions that students fall into, [including] the addiction to technology.”

But, said Gauld, “It was harder than we all thought it would be.” The most difficult thing, she said, was not being able to check e-mail or carry a cell phone.

Gauld said that since she couldn’t just stay in her office answering e-mails and phone calls, she “ended up writing thank-you notes” for a while, before simply leaving her office to see and talk to people.

She said one Hyde teacher observed that, “We can use technology to connect with people halfway around the world, but it can also disconnect you from those sitting right next to you.” For instance, when a person is busy texting while someone is trying to have a face-to-face conversation with him or her.

“One young man,” said Gauld, “said, ‘This is hard because I view my laptop as an extension of my body.’”

Eighteen-year-old Hyde student Hope Eldridge was also included in the speakerphone call. “You know, it was pretty rough,” she said. “Not having my computer—it was pretty hard for me. I type everything.

“People don’t have the best handwriting anymore,” Eldridge continued. “Luckily, I have readable handwriting. After two or three … assignments, my hand was starting to hurt.”

Still, Eldridge summed up that she enjoyed the experience. Her classes, she said, were “much more interactive and intimate” since the teachers lectured from notes instead of the usual PowerPoint, and “there was a lot more bonding going on” in the girls’ dorm—talking, instead of the usual movie-watching.

Her least favorite thing? Not being able to listen to music in her dorm room that evening.

“I think [No-Tech Tuesday] has opened up a conversation on campus,” Gauld said. “It certainly got us all talking and joking with each other, and seeing who we are, with or without technology. … We’re not saying, ‘Let’s go back to no technology at all.’ I want [Hyde students] to be technology-prepared, but I also want my students to connect with each other to help lead this world in the future.”

Burt Levy’s empty chicken coop

Burt’s empty coop
Chico resident Burt Levy was asked last month by a city code-enforcement officer who happened to see his chicken coop (pictured) to get rid of the three hens that he relied on for fresh eggs for almost six months. Levy could not pay the $2,799 permit fee required to keep them.

Levy, who spoke in front of the City Council Sept. 7 on behalf of keeping chickens, is hoping for an overall suspension of the costly fees “until they come up with a new ordinance and regulations.”