Gershom Aitchison, headmaster of Education Incorporated Boutique School, talks about the fidget spinner craze and writes:
When a member of my staff first raised the issue of children having fidget spinners in class, I admit that I had no clue what they were. One was duly pried from the fidgeting fingers of a Grade 5 and brought to our morning staff meeting so that judgement on classroom usage could be proclaimed.
The moment I held it I couldn’t help myself. I immediately started to try and spin the thing. Within seconds, teachers were passing the thing around wanting to have a go themselves and seeing who could spin it the fastest, so if this is what goes on in class I can see the problem.
My ruling was simple: if they are being used inconspicuously, as intended, as a tool to lessen anxiety and aid concentration, let the kids have them and let’s see if they actually have the advertised effect; and that does not extend to multi-coloured luminous versions with flashing lights.
Seriously, until science can prove how flashing multi-coloured lights can aid concentration, I’ll keep filing those ones under the heading of ‘money-making gimmick’.
I later discovered that a local private school is selling these toys. Knowing that the jury is still out on their effectiveness, the thought flashing through my mind was the school in question’s motivation for selling them: cash verse concentration.
I should add that since we granted ‘permission’ to have these toys in class a couple of weeks ago I have barely seen them at all (and they still remain categorised as toys – not tools). It is almost as if by allowing them in class, this took away some of the novelty.
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For me, the overarching question is whether or not their use in the classroom does in any way hinder a teacher’s ability to teach, or interfere with another child’s ability to learn?
Bear in mind that we are talking about mainstream classrooms here. Not those already kitted-out to work with special needs, spectrums of autism or debilitating ADHD.
The attention is moved away from the micro level where all the focus is on the current fad and shifted back to where it is important – constructive and effective education. My last word to parents, teachers and schools who are in a spin over this fidget fad: refocus and relax! This too shall pass.
Edited by Stacey Woensdregt