The Nattick Public
School System in Massachusetts banned MP3 players and Ipods. Seventeen year old
student Sean Flaherty immediately set up a Facebook page to combat the rule. He got amost 500 “likes”
( which means, if you don’t have Facebook, that you click on an icon and Facebook records your response
as a verbal affirmative vote for the subject. ) Sean is convinced that listening to music while he studies or completes assignments
allows him to focus better and drowns out distractions.
And it may. I can remember
listening to music at bome while I did my assignments. But I didn’t take
my music to school. ( Okay, they were called boomboxes back then and if you were cool you carried them on your shoulder. They
were about eighteen inches long and weighed enough to give kids a permanent droop on that side. ) But I didn’t have the music blaring and it affected no one else. My kids put their earbuds in on
car trips and I can STILL hear their music in the
front seat. That’s TOO loud.
Flaherty says Ipods
are a legitimate study tool. After all, you can download and listen to educational materials on them. OF COURSE YOU CAN. I would like to point out that White
Out is an effective tool for correcting mistakes, but also apparently gives sniffers a nice recreational high. And cold medicines with pseudophedrine are now kept behind
the counter because they can be used to make Meth. And when I was younger, vibrators were…never mind, you get the point.
The educators at Flaherty’s high school disagreed with Flaherty.
The principal said that he had researched the issue and found no concrete evidence that listening to music while studying
or doing assignments raises the learning code.
“All the literature I've read is that they're not concentrating as well as they can," said Rose
Bertucci, principal of Natick High School. “I'm not convinced - I haven't read anything - that said listening to your
iPod is going to help you write a better English paper."
Zentall, Ph.D., of Purdue University, who made a study of ADHD related factors, concluded that multi-tasking might actually
HELP kids with attention deficits. Fidgeting and gum chewing are two other things she noted that seem to increase focus. That makes sense to me: I know, for instance that caffeine calms hyperactive kids.
(Okay, maybe I went too far when I gave the young man a 2-liter bottle of Code Red. He slept for 10 hours. But it was 10 hours
when he wasn’t head-butting the dog.)
Elona Hartjes, Ontario Certified Teacher/blogger, came out in favor of allowing students to take their music
to class because she, too, noted a positive response in her class. FOR A WHILE. Sadly,
she noted on her blog, she has to recant. It seems that the kids were using the technology to cheat. And, as Harties says,
“For example, not all my students
have a passion for algebra. If listening to music while completing their algebra assignments helps make algebra bearable and
they stay on track and complete the algebra assignments, then I’m all for listening to music while doing algebra.
I’d rather they complete their assignments than not complete their assignments. If however, my students become distracted
from completing their assignments because their media players enable them to do all kinds of other things they
prefer over algebra like surfing the web, texting, or playing games then I’m all for banning those devices from
my classroom. I want listening to music to help students complete their work. I don’t want the devices students use
to listen to music to introduce more distractions into the classroom.”
AND THEREIN LIES THE RUB. Left to
our own devices, we humans are pleasure-seekers and excuse-makers. No adult in
his right mind believes kids won’t use the technology available to them if they have an opportunity. And in our new fervor to protect student’s rights, no teacher would dare spot check what kids are
listening to. If the instruments had only the capacity to play a pre-loaded list
of music with lyrics that did not encourage disrespectful and aggressive behavior (Oh, I forgot to mention that factor. Eminem
is not especially effective in instilling respect for other students or class rules) then maybe students should be allowed
to have their Ipods and MP3 players in class.
And if White Out only was used as
an office tool, people should be allowed to stock up on it.
And if marijuana ONLY had a medicinal
effect, there should be no laws restricting access to it.
But the thing about ADHD and multitasking
is interesting. Maybe at home, where I can monitor what my kids are listening to while doing homework, it might be an option.
I suppose, to make our decisions on what is right for our kids…do we allow them to take their music and cell phones
to school or do we play the old fuddy duddy and make them leave the technology at home…we beyonders will have to rely
on something most of us have in spades: common sense.
Oh, and the fact that a lot of us
don’t give a good toot about what the schools allow or don’t allow if it goes against our instincts. There’s