I had the privilege of providing a summer course through the West Cork Education Centre, to a very enthusiastic and motivated group of teachers at the start of the month. We covered a range of topics over the week, and I thought I’d share a few snippets of information related to topics raised during the course.
One topic that we discussed was listening skills, and how background noise can be a barrier to listening for children, as well as putting strain on a teacher’s voice. Using practical strategies to reduce background noise were discussed, including the benefits of having an FM system which amplifies the teacher’s voice above background noise. The importance of reducing background noise was highlighted in the following article that I came across:
The effect of noise on auditory working memory and comprehension in school age children.
As teachers, the topic of voice care came up, given that teachers are professional voice users, relying on their voices throughout the day to teach, entertain, motivate children. The demands on a teachers’ voice are huge, and voice problems not only have implications for the teachers themselves, but also the students, as research has shown that children find it more difficult to listen to a voice which is hoarse. It was startling the number in the room who had experienced difficulties with their voice at some point in their career, and we discussed practical strategies around voice care, such as these tips.
The impact of screen time and particularly social media on communication skills in children, adolescents and adults was also a hot topic. This area is something that I’m quite passionate about both professionally and personally. Concerns raised by teachers included, reduced attention span and distractibility, from children being exposed to highly stimulating and quickly changing screen-based environments, poorer conversational skills across all ages, and weaker literacy skills. The importance of parents as role models came out strongly, as we can’t expect a child to have boundaries around using screens if we ourselves don’t. Two great books on this topic are:
‘The Winter of our Disconnect‘, by Susan Maushart, a book which I reviewed last winter and ‘Last child in the woods‘, by Richard Louv, a book which identifies a new disorder…Nature Deficit Disorder.
And on that note, I will disconnect from my laptop, and enjoy some screen free time with the family!