No-Tech Challenge Builds Historical Empathy

Madeleine Singh, Staff Writer

Students in Matthew Bostick’s world history classes are still recovering from their participation in the “No-Tech Challenge,” an assignment that required students to give up their electronic devices for 48 hours.

According to the assignment rubric, students were expected to turn off their cell phone, give up at least 3 major technologies like TVs, computers, or radios, and swear off 3 or more lesser technologies like zippers, canned food, and washing machines in order to earn an “A.”

“I introduced the challenge as we were studying the industrial revolution so they could understand what life was like before modern technologies,” said Bostick. “Another purpose of the project was historical empathy, even though it would be impossible to fully understand a world without the technology we have today.”

“I did the challenge on the 1st weekend of Thanksgiving break,” said freshman Norah Bessette, who chose to give up her internet, phone, color TV, zippers, staplers, and calculators. “The hardest part of the challenge was not using zippers, for sure. The easiest was probably no calculators because I didn’t need calculators because it was break,” she said.

To pass the time without TV or internet, Bessette read books and did puzzles. “Leaving the house was really helpful, and it was nice to take a break and unhook.”

Freshman Lila Chatterton said, “It wasn’t as hard as I expected, but it was difficult to restrain myself not to grab my phone at any free moment. I also found it really refreshing because I did it over break when I was with my grandparents who I don’t get to see very often, so it was nice to spend undistracted time with them.”

“Most did fine without their phones,” added Bostick. “And I think a lot actually enjoyed it.”