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The Impact of Music on Completing Tasks: A Psychology Case Study

By Grace Gibbons and Alie Hyland, VI Form

The Impact of Music on Completing Tasks: A Psychology Case Study

As high school students, we spend a lot of time completing homework assignments and studying each day. We noticed that some of our peers choose to listen to music during study hours, while others prefer silence in order to remain focused. Both of us have different preferences, so we conducted this study to determine the impact of music on concentration while completing a task. 

Research previously conducted on this topic indicates that listening to music impacts cognitive ability in various ways. Music will either enhance or negatively impact studying depending on the type of work the student is completing. If a student is working on a complex task that requires complete focus or processing multiple pieces of information, then background music may hinder their concentration. (Kuepper-Tetzel 2016). Music can enhance student performance by blocking out outside noises and distractions, helping the student fully focus on their assignment. We chose the task of a word scramble for our study since it requires full concentration from the student and the lyrics may interfere with processing.

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The Absurd Act of Looking for Meaning in Camus’ The Stranger

By Jake Oblak, IV Form

The Absurd Act of Looking for Meaning in Camus’ The Stranger

What is the meaning of absurdism? How are absurdist people perceived by others? How can someone be impacted by this lifestyle? These are all questions that arise from The Stranger by Albert Camus. This philosophical novel follows a man named Meursault through a portion of his adult life. His experiences in the book range from his romantic relations with his girlfriend Marie to being sentenced to the guillotine after being convicted of murder. Throughout these events, problems emerge as a result of Meursault’s absurdist lifestyle, and personal values. Consequently, Camus delivers an eloquent introduction to absurdism and negative impacts of believing in a counter-cultural philosophy, but based on his own logic looking for a message in his writing would be ignorant.

Absurdism is an uncommon philosophy compared to modern day ideologies, but its outlook on life is unique. Absurdism is defined as “a philosophical perspective which holds that the efforts of humanity to find meaning or rational explanation in the universe ultimately fail (and, hence, are absurd) because no such meaning exists, at least to human beings” (New World). As this definition explains, absurdism is based on the idea that life has no meaning and is completely arbitrary. As a result, looking for any kind of meaning in life would be considered futile. Through an absurdist lens partaking in events in order to fulfill a requirement created by society is ridiculous. This is a common theme which occurs repeatedly throughout The Stranger. Absurdists believe in doing what feels right to them, rather than doing what is right in the eyes of the norm manufactured by society. (more…)

Survival With God: On Piers Paul Read’s Alive

By Lindsay Davis, IV Form

Survival With God: On Piers Paul Read’s Alive

Alive by Piers Paul Read, a survival story of a plane crash in the Andes Mountains, recounts how the survivors’ trust in God influenced their resilience during a crisis of life and death. In 1972, a plane carrying Uruguayan rugby players and other Uruguayan citizens crashed in the middle of the Andes. While the travelers suffered many injuries or died from the crash, the fight on the mountain came most from their will to survive and the actions needed to outlast the miserable conditions of the Andes. The rations of food, sleeping conditions, injuries, and pre-existing relationships affected the mental status of each survivor. Their bond with God helped them to make life at the Fairchild fair and optimistic. The survivors who boarded the Fairchild came close to death in the Andes, but their hope for survival and reliance on God pushed them through the mental pain and helped inspire their faith in physical recovery.

The survivors ate the flesh of their dead companions knowing that was their only way to survive. God had inspired the courage to engage in repugnant cannibalism. Over the course of the seventy-two days, while the survivors’ mentality fluctuated, food supplies ran out and the concern of starvation became apparent. The injuries and losses suffered by some of the Fairchild passengers would not matter if they could not feed themselves. Although most of the boys were expecting the point at which they would need the protein of their fellow dead friends and passengers, Canessa was the first to discuss aloud with the group. After eliminating the idea of eating the seat cushions and digging deep for grass, the bodies that surrounded them on and in the snow were the last plan. (more…)

Sexism in the Workplace Through a Critical Social Justice Lens

By Anu Akibu, V Form

Sexism in the Workplace Through a Critical Social Justice Lens

Writer’s Note:

This was an essay I wrote for the class Social Justice. We were tasked to “write an analytical essay that evaluates [a] resource through a critical social justice lens, applying the terms, ideas, and concepts we studied in this module.” The article analyzed in this essay is Boston Has Eliminated Sexism in the Workplace. Right?, so the issues presented focus on American society. I am still learning about critical social justice and challenging the way I view the world around me.


The Boston Magazine article explores the gender-wage gap in prestigious jobs at presumably equitable areas of the United States such as Boston. Highlighted within the article are the narratives of various women’s experiences with discrimination and microaggressions in their workplace. Although the companies have taken action against sexism in the workplace, there are still numerous ways for society’s cultural and ideological nature to align with its progressive efforts. (more…)

Deep Work in Practice at St. Mark’s (Part 3)

By Dr. Colleen Worrell, Director of The Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning

Deep Work in Practice at St. Mark’s (Part 3)

Deep Work is a skill that the Center is hoping to build into each student’s “learning playbook.” The first two LEO articles (Make Deep Work Your Super Powerand Productivity, Neuroscience, & Deliberate Practice) aimed to introduce the term and core concepts to the St. Mark’s community. This third article focuses on deep work from the perspective of two St. Markers, 6th Former Sophie Haugen, and Classics teacher, Dr. Harwood. Each of them responded to the following questions:

  • What are some ways that you deliberately practice deep work at (or beyond) St. Mark’s?
  • What is the value of deep work?
  • What recommendations do you have for St. Marker’s who’d like get started with deep work?

Sophie Haugen, 6th Former:

I am not an expert on “doing” deep work, but I do try to practice it and I have learned about its importance, especially as a student at St. Mark’s where our schedules and lives are extremely packed and do not easily enable us to practice deep work all the time. Last year, I fell into a multi-month-long rut of frustration and lack of satisfaction from everything I was doing in my academic courses. I was putting in excessive time and what I perceived to be effort and hardwork but was not seeing the results in my grades or my actual understanding/engagement with the material. (more…)

Taboo or Taking a Stand? Why Sexual Assault Needs More Attention

By Lucy Martinson, V Form

 

Taboo or Taking a Stand? Why Sexual Assault Needs More Attention

Editors’ Note: In Dr. Worrell’s Social Justice course, students identified an issue that they wanted to take a stand on and then researched to write an evidence-based editorial to demonstrate that they have built knowledge and skills. This assignment was modeled on The New York Times Learning Network Student Editorial Contest

Image from CBC News

Sexual assault has always existed but became more visible recently with actresses such as Ashley Judd, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Angelina Jolie accusing acclaimed director Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault. The outbreak of these allegations brought the nation’s attention to the issue of sexual assault and harassment. Following this, actress Alyssa Milano started the hashtag #MeToo on Twitter, encouraging women to speak out and share their stories. This movement gained rapid popularity and snowballed across various means of social media, with thousands of women (and men) replying with their experiences and/or their support. Yet, even with these recent high profile cases, there is still work to be done to raise awareness regarding the prevalence of sexual assault. (more…)