Monday, 31 October 2011

How does sound affect our kids learning?

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by Yutaka Tsutano

I am a bit of a rebel.  I let kids in my class listen to music when they are working sometimes (actually it is more often than sometimes) and they really enjoy it.  In my opinion, it gives the kids an opportunity to focus and stay on task easier.  It also eliminates distractions provided by the noise of a general classroom.  Whilst I wouldn't let them listen to music of their choice (Justin Beiber is finally being phased out) all of the time, in my professional opinion it has increased productivity within my classroom environment.

Last night, the fantastic Steve Lang put out his latest edition of his email newsletter Idea A Day.   He goes through phases where he looks at different areas and this week he is looking at TED Talks.  Like everybody, I always enjoy a good TED Talk and have been inspired and motivated by them.  There are some amazing  people out there trying to change the world and it is great to hear from them in a short sharp 5 - 10 minute segment.

Julian Treasure is the chair of the Sound Agency, a firm that advises worldwide businesses on how to use sound.  He asks us to pay attention to the sounds that surround us.  How do they make us feel?  I have been thinking about this concept for a while and was so glad when this video came across my stream.  I think that some of the messages that he talks about can apply to education.  Watch the video below and then see my thoughts below on how it applies to education.

In this TED Talk (that I really enjoyed) he outlines the four ways that sound affects us.  The 4 ways were: physiological, psychological, cognitive and behavioral.  I found that whilst I was watching this and he was talking about business, I was thinking 'Um....Education!'  If we can use sound to create an environment that kids are comfortable and familiar with, surely their productivity / learning / engagement must increase.  I am no researcher and have nothing to back up my thoughts but I would think that this would be the case.

I loved the graphic where he talks about that work productivity in open plan offices decreases by 66%.  Whilst I realize that there will be studies out there to dispute this, I thought it was interesting in regards to modern education.  A lot of the models out there show classrooms / work spaces that are big open planned spaces with lots of activity and of course on task noise.  I personally believe that kids still need opportunities to 'focus in' within these environments and if we are smart, educators will grasp onto the power of sound to increase the learning of their students.

As per normal, I would love to hear your thoughts.  

1 comment:

  1. Absolutely Ash; if we are going to go to great lengths to create a positive and engaging physical environment, surely the audio environment is a logical extension/part of that. I know that trying to focus on timetable manipulation requires a different kind of background noise to writing an academic article or even a blog. In the noise heavy world that our students operate in, I think we MUST be teaching kids how to effectively filter that noise to efficiently operate. Great post and thanks for the thoughts!