The Camera Controversy – Ellie Hewes

Many people at RHS are reluctant to turn their cameras on, despite the fact that it has become part of the school policy. Now, I am not going to lie, I have not put my camera on in some of my lessons and only do so when the teacher prompts us. However, I realise that there are certainly benefits, not only for students, but also for the teachers, which outweigh the disadvantages of having the cameras turned on.

Firstly, one of the key reasons as to why the school has decided to make cameras compulsory is due to the health benefits. Having your camera on allows you to see people, reinforcing a classroom environment. Now you may not be used to constantly seeing everybody’s faces all the time (and certainly not your own looking back at you), but I think it has made this lockdown far easier than the last. You can see expressions, rather than just a black box with some initials in. Seeing people’s expressions allows you to interact more easily and for someone who takes A Levels which require a lot of debate, I certainly find that it helps to have my camera on.

However, there are certainly advantages for the teacher too. Speaking to my mum who is also a teacher, she explained how she can gauge more easily how her pupils are finding certain topics when they have their cameras on. She also explained how she can also tell whether they are listening and that they become more involved when their cameras are on. Moreover, let’s face it, having your cameras on also allows the teacher to know you are there and not preoccupied by a game or Netflix.

Without cameras on, Netflix may take the place of online lessons for many students

One of the arguments usually put forward by pupils who do not want to put their cameras on, is that they are self-conscious. Now I completely understand this – it is not exactly great seeing yourself all the time in a lesson (and it becomes worse when your teacher screen shares, and you can see yourself on the bigger screen). However, as my mum said, the teachers have been encouraged to put their cameras on from the start. Therefore, if they have been encouraged to do it in order to help us to learn, surely it is only fair that we do it too. Now I know this view will probably be unpopular in the student body, however they are only enforcing the rule in order to help our learning in these unprecedented times.

Speaking from personal experience, knowing that you need to have your camera on causes you to get changed in the morning. Therefore, a routine is inflicted upon you, which has been proven to help your mental health and general well-being. If it weren’t for the cameras, I would probably be inclined to do tutor in my pajamas and say to myself, ‘oh well, I’ll get changed between tutor and period one’. Having cameras on also forces you to get out of bed (even if it is only five minutes before tutor).

I think one of the other advantages, which is often not cited is that having cameras on allows you to be nosy! You can get a glimpse of your teachers and classmates’ houses. The Bubble team all know how much you love ‘Through the Keyhole’ each week! Humans are naturally nosy. I hadn’t thought of this idea before, until one of my teachers complemented someone for their lights. The student then replied that having your cameras on does allow you to have an insight into other people’s houses, which she found intersting, and the class agreed.   

However, I think the most important reason for having cameras on, is that just seeing a face and a smile from somebody who is not in your household is lovely! It can lift your spirits and allows you to remember that you are part of a larger community and that you are not alone.

Therefore, when that reluctance to turn your camera on encompasses you, remember this article. Once you take that brave move to turn your camera on, you will find others will follow you, which will help not just you, but others too!

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