Do you have AirPods? Do your friends? One of those answers is bound to be yes. Although they came out two years ago, this past holiday season saw RHS shaken to the core with AirPods obnoxiously sticking out of ears everywhere.
Apple’s bluetooth earbuds are set apart from the rest of the market by two attributes: their price and their manufacturer. Everyone understands Apple’s standards and the $160 price point has led many people to feel entitled to mindlessly flex their new music devices. Also, because so many students have iPhones, they naturally gravitate towards the Apple-made AirPods which work within the ecosystem flawlessly.
These devices kind of look ridiculous, with some terming them as ‘white toothbrushes’ that are awkwardly poking out of our ears. In any case, their totally wireless and streamlined functionality outweighs the absurd look.
Though they look quite innocent at first, they are quite easy to hide from teachers. Since they are so small and involve no wires, teachers find them hard to detect.
Many students at RHS sit in class with a hand over one ear and slouched over, an obvious indication of the misdemeanor at hand. Some even put their hoods up—completely covering the ears from the sides—allowing students to listen to music in the middle of class. Since AirPods are now extremely popular in RHS, they have become quite notorious among teachers.
Cheating is definitely a real problem with these earpieces, since AirPods, by design, function as discrete, easy-to-use, and physically small audio devices. These qualities, while a technological marvel and useful for commuters and students alike, can also be used for nefarious purposes. During a test, students can easily wear airpods inconspicuously and play back an audio recording of them reading the notes. With that said, the use of AirPods is not a viable or widespread form of cheating. While terrible, this should not be an issue given the intense rigor of the curriculum, the watchful and involved eyes of teachers, as well as the highly publicized and strictly enforced academic integrity policy.
A popular online trope is that AirPod users are wealthy individuals (because of the steep price-tag) and pretend to spend their time in phone calls with “important associates” even if they don’t actually have the prestigious status. Throughout the halls of RHS it is comical to watch students “hustling” from class to class with a phone out, moving at a brisk pace, and acting as if they are seriously involved with five different clubs and printing important documents in the Learning Commons.
In the bustling, packed hallways of RHS, the auditory distraction that AirPods empower are definitely a potential problem. However, since students walk only at a brisk pace, rather than run, this does not provide a real cause for concern. In addition, Ridgewood High has not banned water bottle carrying in the hallway like Bergen County Academies, so this is not a cause for administrative action, scrutiny, or concern. The only time where this does cause a legitimate problem is when students listen to music while their teacher is doing their job, either openly or by concealing the AirPods under a hood or a stray hand.
Listening to music when there are important things happening in class is purely disrespectful and a downright insult to the tremendous opportunities that students at RHS are offered, as well as the work that the talented educational professionals in the building put in day in and day out.
Similar to other technologies that are brought into the classroom, such as phones or Chromebooks, students should only use AirPods when they have authorization from the teacher to respect the legitimacy of the classroom, stay focused, and take full advantage of the opportunities they are given.
Aaron Friedman and Logan Richman
Graphic: Aaron Friedman and Logan Richman