WATCH: Teachers react to fidget spinners
There's no denying that some people concentrate better with some sort of distraction. Whether it's tapping your feet, drumming your fingers, doodling or clicking a pen. According to research subtle fidgeting can block out distractions, fight boredom, and increase productivity.
In his book, Spark, Dr John J. Ratey, who is an associate clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, says that fidgeting increases levels of the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine, which play a key role in sharpening focus and increasing attention.
South African "Super Teacher" Francois Naude's latest video is all about fidget spinners and what teachers think about this latest craze.
He asked his fellow teachers how they felt about these gadgets and if they should be allowed in classrooms, and it was quite interesting to hear what they had to say.
What are fidget spinners?
Fidget spinners are made from plastic or metal with a bearing in the centre and several prongs that spin around it. They're intended for mindless play while working or sitting in class but it seems that most kids are just using them as toys trying to outdo each other with elaborate tricks.
What do teachers think?
Francois posted the question and got numerous replies from friends:
- A lot of teachers just plain hated it and thought they were equally as distracting as cellphones and tablets.
- Other teachers have embraced the craze and incorporated them into lessons, because you "catch more flies with honey than vinegar". One teacher used the fidget spinners to practice fine motor skills.
- A lot of non-teachers thought they would have some use for kids who needed to fidget to help them concentrate.
- An occupational therapist pointed out that other things could be used with the same outcome, for instance giving kids a piece of Prestik to play with instead.
- One downside is that a lot more kids are suddenly claiming to have ADD or ADHD and asking for fidget spinners to "help them concentrate". While they certainly could help kids who have real concentration issues, ADD or ADHD shouldn't be self-diagnosed.
Watch the video:
Maybe if fidget spinners are causing more of a distraction, other methods can be implemented. Playing with a piece of Prestik, stress balls or beaded bracelets will do the trick. The ideal is "focused fidgeting", performing a mindless activity to help you focus on a primary task such as listening to the teacher.
A teacher at a school in Arkansas, US, installed Bouncy Bands on all her students' desks. One of the moms of the fourth grade students noticed that all the kids were reading calmly as their legs tapped and bounced beneath the desk.
The teacher saw an immediate improvement in her kids' concentration levels.
What are your thoughts on fidget spinners? Are they a necessary tool for concentration or just another distraction in the classroom? Send us your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org and they could be published.