Teacher: Fidget Spinners Have Caused Student Scores To Drop 20% In A Week

Posted: May 1 2017, 1:30pm CDT | by , in Technology News


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Teacher: Fidget Spinners Have Caused Student Scores to Drop 20% in a Week
Photo Credit: Noel Diem

Over lunch the other day, I asked my friend about fidget spinners and fidget toys, the latest “must have” toy for children. She's a teacher at a middle school in Harlem, New York. At first, she thought fidget spinners would change the way her students listened and learned, but now she isn't so sure.

“I’m not saying they don’t work for some students, I’m just saying that most students are actually harmed by them,” she said with a grimace. “They’re distracting and annoying for the most part. I've had some kids drop 20% in just a few weeks. Most scores are down by about 10% since we allowed them. It just isn't working.” Of course, you do have to look at other factors, like weather changes.

In a world where many parents (and teachers) will try anything to improve test scores and help kids pay attention in classrooms, it seems like the invention of the fidget toy couldn’t have come at a better time. Instead of annoying other students, playing with tools that you can’t take, or looking at their phones, they can play with these and pay attention at the same time. The idea is to give them some entertainment while still allowing them to learn and grow. Many parents have asked: do fidget spinners really work?

For teachers, even mentioning them is enough to make them cringe. Most teachers will agree that for the students who actually need them, they do work. However, those aren’t the only students that have them. Like shoes or jewelry, they’ve become a bit of a status symbol – and there are plenty of cheap knockoffs, and those tend to be the source of the problem.

“I tell my students that if I can hear their spinner, and I’m not directly next to them, that the spinner will be mine. I have a shoebox full of spinners that I’ve confiscated,” my friend revealed. “The problem is that they are buying cheaper ones and they aren’t quiet, so they distract everyone else. If they play with them under the desk, it’s usually fine. Then some of them have ones that fall apart so you have a ball bearing rolling across the floor while you’re trying to teach Romeo and Juliet and it just isn’t a great place to be.”

Why Fidget Toys Aren’t Helping

For many people, focusing on more than one task at a time means trouble. Our brains aren’t typically designed to do that. However, there are people that have brains that are wired differently. These students can focus on more than one thing and sometimes having two things to focus on actually makes it easier for them to sit still and understand what is happening. It distracts the part of their brain that wants to create problems and allows them to connect in the classroom.

Again: most children don’t have that problem.

Now we are just training our children to accept distractions, meaning they won’t get 70% of what is said to them in the classroom. Most parents don’t even think about it really, they just know that it is something relatively cheap that their children want. Stores are taking advantage of it too, highlighting spinners in multiple departments, selling them in gas stations, and even promoting them on television.

Fidget toys have a space and they have a place. However, for most students, they are nothing more than a distraction that we simply cannot have in our classrooms. They are doing more damage than good. Before just going out to purchase a fidget toy for your child, talk to the guidance counselor and teachers – they will have an opinion as to whether or not it will help. If you don't want to do that and you do want to purchase a fidget spinner, at least make sure to buy one that doesn't fall apart in the middle of a lecture on factoring or makes a whirling noise while talking about World War II. Check out our guide to finding the best fidget spinner.

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The Author

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/46" rel="author">Noel Diem</a>
Noel passion is to write about geek culture.




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