Saturday, March 24, 2012

Why Can't They Keep Their Mouths Shut???

Another general complaint.

I sub in 3 school districts, in grades 3 through 12. I prefer 4th through 6th grades, but I will sub for middle school and high school math and technology. Lately I have wondered over and over again why it is that kids feel they have to talk all of the time. You get the class quiet, so you can take attendance or give them instructions for the activity that their teacher planned and before the first three names are called or the first sentence you utter is completed, at least 3 students are already talking again. You can do this over and over again and it doesn't improve - get them quiet, start talking yourself, discover that at least 3 kids are talking again. Even when the kids are actively engaged in a lesson (or maybe especially then), they seem to be constantly talking. Not all of the kids do this, of course, but there are many who do.

Some rude classes do this purposely - trying to annoy the sub, flaunting the power of numbers. Some excitable kids do it almost as though they are unaware of the effect it has on others. Some very social kids do it, because they are much more interested in the other students than they are in learning any subject matter. Even when there are really interesting lessons planned, with lots of student interaction and chance to talk once they get started, it is hard to get the lesson started, because there are too many students who are talking.

So the question is, WHY? Is there something going on with kids now that makes silence, even for a short time, uncomfortable? Is there some need to fill any amount of quiet as if it were a vacuum? Is the source of the problem their own brains - constantly needing stimulation, constantly in motion? What has become of reflection? Has it changed into thinking out loud?

I realize that lectures are out of fashion now in classes below college level, but I don't think anyone COULD lecture classes nowadays. They just can't keep quiet long enough to actually HEAR the lecture.

Even movies, which once used to be a sure fire way to keep kids engaged and quiet, don't work that way any more. Kids will talk throughout an entire movie if allowed (and will whisper if talking out loud is frowned upon).

And, interestingly, even if kids are actively working on INDIVIDUAL projects on the computer, even if they are at entirely DIFFERENT stages of the projects, and even if the projects are completely unrelated, they still will talk almost continuously to their neighbors.

Does anyone have a good explanation for this???

1 comment:

  1. Welcome to the adolescent mind, and state of being - though when I returned to college after a 5 year hiatus, I noticed the same thing with my, now younger, classmates. And this was 35 years ago.

    One colleague talks for no more than 7 minutes per hour, as she says that's the researched limit of attention for 6th graders. That doesn't work for me, so I've perfected my "Teacher Glare" - and a perverse sense of humor - so I can stretch that to about ... 9 minutes, tops.

    I'm sure there are up to date studies on this. Hope someone passes one along.