Fidget Spinners: Therapeutic Tool or Classroom Nuisance?

by | Dec 5, 2017 | Classroom

People clearly enjoy using fidget spinners, but how many of us have stopped to wonder a basic question about them: What, exactly, is a fidget spinner? Considering how they seem like a simple, fun way to pass the time, we may want to call them toys. But most toys, like dolls and trucks, are often representational, relating to other “real-world” objects or activities. While fidget spinners don’t represent anything beyond the activity of spinning them. Perhaps they resemble religious paraphernalia, like bead necklaces used for counting by Buddhists and Muslims, for meditative and devotional rituals. Yet, this relatively new invention did not emerge from any religious context, nor are their sellers trying to relate them to any religious practice. Then, there are some who claim that fidget spinners are therapeutic. If this claim is true, perhaps we can call them therapeutic machines.
Some may wonder what the fuss is over categorizing fidget spinners. Who cares, right? Toys, meditative tools, therapeutic machines. People buy, use, and enjoy them, and what difference does it make whether we call them one thing or another?

These people would be surprised to learn the practical implications that fall out of categorizing fidget spinners. For instance, some people are concerned that they are a potential hazard — i.e. b

reaking and exposing small parts that can be choked on and hurt children. In order to avoid harm and potential legal battles, the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission had to develop a definition of this gadget. Concerning whether or not fidget spinners are therapeutic, some people are interested in claiming that purchasing them is a tax deductible health cost. In the midst of this broad range of practical concerns, at Knovva Academy, we are interested in the question concerning fidget spinner’s place in the classroom.

Fidget Spinners in the Classroom

Besides needing to cover the material that they need to teach, teachers are often plagued with various difficulties related to their students’ attention. When it comes to fidget spinners in the classroom, there doesn’t seem to be a simple answer concerning whether they are an assistance or a disturbance.

Again, if we think of fidget spinners as a toy, then it seems simple enough that there is no room for them in the classroom. Some schools have chosen to view them as such, in which case there is a school-wide ban of fidget spinners. Such a ban offers a simple hard-line answer. Teachers and administrators in these schools need only to enforce a simple “not tolerance” policy whenever they encounter these little gadgets. The most complicated case to ignore, though, is when students claim that fidget spinners help them to concentrate better.

According to Healthline, one special education teacher has seen the positive effects of fidget spinners. She claims to teach one student, with severe ADHD, who concentrates better during lessons when using a fidget spinner. Furthermore, she claims to have explained successfully to the other students about the particularity of this case — i.e. that for student’s with special medical conditions, fidget spinners are a kind of treatment. Apparently, the other students learned to accept the special status of the one student, and this teacher found a kind of harmony that allows for limited use of fidget spinners in the classroom.

At the same time, the FDA still does not approve fidget spinners as a therapeutic device. This lack of approval restrains doctors from prescribing them. Lacking medical consensus, the case described above, with the teacher that found an effective way to allow fidget spinner use in the classroom, probably cannot serve as an example to be imitated in other schools.

Perennial Questions Concerning Classroom Etiquette

Fidget spinners allow us to think through important questions about classroom etiquette. Yet, some of use may be wondering if this is really a new problem… Some people remember playing with silly putty under their desks, or sliding finger sized skateboards along the desk surface. It seems likely to assume that the fidget spinner fad will pass before the research about their potential therapeutic effects is concluded. In the meantime, they offer us a chance to discuss and rearticulate strategies to manage classroom behavior.

Do you have any personal stories or further thoughts about fidget spinner or classroom etiquette? Be in touch, and share your thoughts.

About Knovva Academy:

Knovva’s signature offerings connect top students from around the world with visionary educators, experts, and innovators to gain the skills critical to 21st century leadership. From world class online courses to five-day intensive simulations to two-week immersion programs, Knovva students break down cultural barriers so they can rebuild a world without them.

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