Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Don't Amp Up to Fight Noisy Classrooms

Schools all over the nation are considering adding sound amplification systems like this one to help students hear better. Poor hearing can lead to poor student performance.

But scientists at the Acoustical Society of America, which has been studying the problem of classroom noise for 50 years, ask: wouldn't it be better to have a quieter classroom so students and the teacher could hear each other more naturally?

Noise from amplification systems can penetrate into classrooms next door. Then that classroom would need amplification, then the one next to it, and the one next to it, and so on. Also, having a central amplification system might mean that children would have to step up to a microphone to speak to the teacher. This might cut down on whispering during class, but it would also discourage the shyer students from stepping up to the mike and asking their questions.

The ASA recommends a national standard for classrooms installing damping systems to cut down on noise from other classrooms, or planting trees outside a noisy streetside window, or other solutions that don’t involve creating noise to fight noise.

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