Fidget Spinners in Classrooms: Worthwhile or Worthless?

I’m sure you’ve already heard about the new craze that’s taken the world by storm, and that is precisely what I’d like to talk about today: fidget spinners. Everyone loves this hot new toy and while many are praising it for being fun and helpful in the work place, there are many others who are calling to ban these spinners—especially from the classroom.

I’ve seen multiple articles come out that have said we should ban fidget spinners completely in schools stating that they’re only a distraction for both the person using the spinner and those around them. And I have also seen articles calling for more of a compromise where students may have the spinners as long as they’re used discreetly or during specific times. However, I’ve really only read one article where there is complete support for students having fidget spinners in schools, and I have to say I absolutely agree with it.

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Photo Cred.: Time.com

When I began reading the article I honestly had my doubts about what the author was going to say to really give full support to this idea. Actually, when I first began reading that article I was rather confused considering it was called 5 Reasons to Ban Fidget Spinners from Every Classroom in America, and all of a sudden this teacher began to fully support spinners instead. But, I wanted to hear her out so I kept reading. What she said shocked me because I hadn’t really thought about how we tell kids that fidgeting or messing around with something is so wrong and unacceptable in the classroom. That what we were really doing was taking away their ability to be kids.

I have to be honest, I feel for kids attending school nowadays. They get very little recess time, meaning there’s less time to get all that energy out and when they’re in class they’re expected to sit still and pay attention solely to the teacher. I get that we need kids to pay attention to our teachers, but we shouldn’t penalize them for needing to move in class especially when they’re cooped up in a classroom for around seven hours a day. That’s a lot of time for kids, guys. I specifically remember needing to be able to move somehow or just do something during class to help me get my energy out enough to actually pay attention, and I’m sure many of y’all do, too.

Another thing that the author points out is that we see more and more kids today with ADD or ADHD or Autism, and these fidget spinners are a great way for them to help do something with their hands in order to keep their attention focused in class. Yet, she also says that while these kids definitely seem to benefit from the spinners, who’s to say that all the kids don’t need the spinners? Kids are restless because they’re kids—they’re lucky enough to still have enough youth in them that they don’t need two naps a day just to get through work or school (I feel super old now). So, sure, maybe every kid should get one. At that point it eliminates the “special” factor of the spinners and allows all kids to feel equal instead of left out.

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Photo Cred.: Time.com

Here’s what I really like about her article though—she doesn’t deny the fact that fidget spinners are a distraction in class. Wait, what? I thought she was trying to persuade us that fidget spinners are a good thing for students? Yep, me too. And she does, actually. She says that there’s no dispute on whether or not they’re a distraction in the classroom—they definitely are.

But here’s the difference between her as a teacher and others who might not agree with her: she says that when spinners become too much of a distraction she calls a class meeting to talk about it with her students. At that point students end up suggesting putting rules on the spinners like specific times to use them or that they all have to use them under their desks. All it takes is talking to her students about it and they’re the ones helping come up with rules so they can keep them. Pretty impressive, huh? I honestly thought so. I have every respect for a teacher who teaches her kids how to work together along with teaching them when it is or isn’t appropriate to use such things. That’s what teachers are supposed to do, right?

Okay, so maybe you’re convinced now or maybe you’re not. At any rate, at this point I’m sure you’re asking how this is connected to transformative education? Well, it has to do with how we treat students now vs. under a system of transformative education. Currently we look at students as a collective—teach them as a group. However, transformative education aims to change that so that students become individualized again and we teach based on individual needs and styles. Yes, that will take a lot of effort from teachers, but no one said it would be easy. Besides, if we’re being honest it would be a whole lot more fun to help kids individually and see how their minds work through individualized projects than grade tests and prepare lectures the entire year.

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Photo Cred.: Lelong.my

When looking at fidget spinners or fidget cubes for students, we’re typically looking at them on an individual-need basis for kids who have Autism or ADHD or the like. Being able to see what the child needs specifically to help him/her is what transformative education is about, and if a fidget spinner or cube is what does the trick then I say so be it. If we’re going to be truthful I feel like these gadgets are simply replacing tapping pencils or thrumming fingers along a desk. And honestly I’d rather have the quieter fidget spinners or cubes than something that can really irritate the crap out of me.

But that’s just my opinion. Do you feel the same way? I’d love to hear from you so feel free to leave a comment below. As always, I’d like to remind you before you leave to really give all of these different facets of transformative education some thought. I honestly feel like it’s the change our system needs for both our teachers and our kids. Honestly, I feel like it’s the change we can all benefit from. What do you think?

 

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Photo Cred.: Pintrest.com

 

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