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The MIHS Islander

The Student News Site of Mercer Island High School

The MIHS Islander

The Student News Site of Mercer Island High School

The MIHS Islander

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Let Students Wear Headphones in Class

Let Students Wear Headphones in Class
Kira Lancaster

There is nothing wrong with students listening to music in class, and teachers need to lay off on meaningless restrictions. Headphones are harmless and provide benefits for many students, surpassing any concerns that music is distracting or detrimental to student performance.

Many students turn to music to get through the treacherous school day. By far, the most disappointing thing to hear from a teacher is that they don’t allow earbuds or headphones in class, often backed up with no proper reasoning. Granted, it makes sense to restrict music at certain times, like a live lecture or when the teacher is instructing, but teachers often tell students that music is distracting and not necessary during quiet work time for individual activities. 

It doesn’t make sense for a teacher to dictate whether or not music is helpful to individual students, and they are in no place to decide for the student how distracting it is—perhaps restricting it could have the opposite effect. For many, music provides a lot of neurological benefits, with increases in positive mood, stress reduction and motivation. 

When teachers were asked about their own classroom policy, the answers differed. 

“It depends,” English teacher Leslie Seelye said. “As long as it’s individual and I know it’s not going to be distracting to them, I have no problem with it.”

Of course, opponents may argue that headphones pull focus from school work and invite phone usage. This argument is frankly useless; unless said music is outrightly hindering a student’s performance, what is the harm in letting them have headphones in, if the student says it helps them? As for distracting other students, I would argue that it is pretty hard to be distracted by music you can’t hear. 

Typically no, because in my years of teaching, I’ve found that although some students will say it helps them focus, [with] a lot of students… phones are designed to be distracting,” science teacher Zachary McCauley said. “As soon as people look at the screen, it’s really easy to get off task that way.”

Of course, phones in general are distracting, but I don’t think that this factor overrides the fact that many students find music helpful and harmless. Harsh restrictions only need to be imposed, in my opinion, if the student is clearly using the phone for non-music purposes, and not as a precursor rule. A study by the Stanford school of medicine found that “music engages the areas of the brain involved with paying attention, making predictions and updating the event in memory.” 

As I stated before, the impact music has on students is strongly individual and varies person to person. A study from the Harvard Business Review claims: “Your personality determines whether and how much you benefit from background music while you work. If you’re extroverted, your performance will likely increase with background music or minor distractions. Conversely, being an introvert increases the probability that you find any background noise, including music, distracting.” This idea explains why headphones are a useful tool in class, as only the individual is affected by their music, leaving room for choice–with no detrimental effects on others.

In all, restricting headphones in class does no good for the classroom. The benefits of headphones strongly outweigh the so-called distractions they cause and students should have the freedom to choose what is beneficial to them. 

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About the Contributor
Kira Lancaster, Graphics Manager
Kira Lancaster (she/her) is a sophomore at MIHS and the Graphics Manager for The Islander. She enjoys music and dance and is part of the Mercer Island Drill Team at MIHS. Outside of school, her hobbies include drawing, writing and singing. Her favorite animal is a scorpion!

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    Paelun BFeb 2, 2024 at 3:45 pm

    Overall I definitely agree that students should be allowed to listen to music during individual work times, but I do think it is important to note the epidemic of students coming into class listening to YouTube or a podcast who don’t pay attention at all to class. I remember last year in my math class only a fourth of the class was ever actually listening, as most just were on their phones with headphones in the whole period, and my teacher got increasingly frustrated throughout the year. Idk, your point is valid, but I also think students are definitely being distracted by phones and headphones a lot.

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