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Fidget spinners: a disruption in the classroom or a tool of concentration?

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Student spins her fidget spinner to increase their classroom production

Student spins her fidget spinner to increase their classroom production

Student spins her fidget spinner to increase their classroom production

Olivia Oles, Editor-in-Chief

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Student spins her fidget spinner to increase classroom production

In 2013, the Kendama trend infiltrated the halls of middle school. With  constant Kendama showdowns, they became more of a distraction and some school officials banned them. Now, the “fidget spinner” is taking its place.

These new gadgets were created to aid in concentration for people with autism, anxiety, and ADD or ADHD. Fidget spinners are designed so students can spin the device with one hand while allowing the mind to remain focused.There are differing opinions on whether these toys should be banned. Depending on the spinner, they can create noises that are disruptive to a classroom environment. Teacher Kate Phipps thinks of the gadgets as a distraction.

“I like them [the] theory behind them. However, they are more of a distraction than anything,” Phipps said.  “One could meditate and calm themselves as opposed to playing with a toy. [Fidget Spinners] aren’t doing their job because the kids who are playing with them are not focused on what they are supposed to be doing.”

Special education teacher Terra Brow agrees with Phipps, but does not believe that they are the biggest distractions in the classroom.  

“I believe ‘fidgets,’ should be used as tools, not distractions,” Brow said. “They are not at all silent, [but] fidget spinners are not the biggest distraction in any classroom (still cellphones), and I think the choice to ban them or not should be up to the teacher.”  

Some teachers, such as Dale Freeland allow them in his class and utilize them as an opportunity to apply physics outside the classroom. At the Engineering Expo that occurred on April 26, Freeland included an exhibit of a 3D printer that printed the spinner layer by layer and it was a main attraction for many students.

“A few of my students have had them in class,” Freeland said. “I have not seen them as distracting in physics classes. If they are distracting to a class, the teacher can always ask the students not to use them. I feel that students will comply with that simple request.”

Some students, such as sophomores Konnor McLeod and Gregory Redlon realize the business opportunity, so they started selling the toys to other students. Redlon prints the spinners  home via a 3D printer and McLeod sells them to underclassmen. McLeod, however, understands some of the teachers’ frustrations.   

“Yes, they can be a distraction in class,” McLeod said. I don’t use one anymore because I realized I was focusing on [the fidget spinner] instead of on the teacher. In a way, they should be banned.”

Other students, such as junior Martìn Velez, realizes the potential for the toys and argues they should be allowed in class.

“I think as long as they aren’t being too distracting they are okay.” Velez said. “[The ban] shouldn’t be applied across the board; it should be applied on a case by case basis.”

1 Comment

One Response to “Fidget spinners: a disruption in the classroom or a tool of concentration?”

  1. MJ Hart on May 9th, 2017 1:27 pm

    Timely and interesting piece that warrants more dialogue. We walk a fine line when evaluating creative tools to redirect energy versus internal coping methods to help control attention challenges. The attention deficit condition is as real as the need to mitigate the social distraction it causes. Most professional environments don’t pass out spinners in high level meetings with executives. The expectation is self control of hands, legs and tongue. You can always choose a career conducive to free expression and a more liberal work environment. And these options are becoming increasingly more popular. The key is identifying the tools that work the best, and best translate to the professional world. Thanks for sharing.

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Fidget spinners: a disruption in the classroom or a tool of concentration?