I recently found out that a 13 year old girl, Nora Keegan from Calgary, Canada, had conducted a piece of research to test whether the volume of electric hand dryers were detrimental to children’s hearing.
She’d noticed that her own ears would start ringing after using certain dryers, and decided to test her hypothesis. She visited over 40 public washrooms and used a professional decibel meter to measure sound levels of hand dryers from various heights and distances.
Now I don't know about you, but there are occasions when I find the noise from those things almost unbearable, but what I hadn’t taken into account was that I’m a grown woman, not hugely tall I’ll grant you, but my ears are a lot further away from the source of discomfort than children’s are.
I’d never thought of it. I spend a great deal of my life trying to put myself in the child’s position, physically and emotionally, to try and better understand how we can improve inter-generational communication and relations, and there are still day to day things I miss. I know I’m not alone, it’s difficult to keep remembering that our children are experiencing things in a completely different way to us.
Nora found that Xlerator and two types of Dyson Airblade dryers both exceed 100 decibels. Health Canada does not allow toys for children to be sold over 100 decibels, but the loudest dryer she recorded was 121 decibels.
Nora’s findings have been published in the Journal of Paediatrics & Child Health, so hopefully they will spur on companies to do something about this.
As for us, we should be ever vigilant. Sadly not every child is as resourceful, capable and confident in their abilities as Nora, so it falls to us to get down and see, hear, feel, experience things from the child’s perspective - both actually and metaphorically - rather than guessing or just not bothering.
In this case Nora’s work may have an impact on whether or not children will be able to hear us in the future - and that’s a very strong metaphor indeed.
Last week I wrote about encouraging children to flex their inventive muscles, and exercise their ability for creative and imaginative thought.
My point regarding the inherent fear in spontaneous action or communication has been echoed in the continuing observation that our young people are developing anxiety around the mere act of talking to one another.
I wrote this blogpost for Childcare Expo last year, and as I currently have lots of work in infant schools, it seemed timely to give it another airing:
How Can We Use Creative and Performative Techniques in the Classroom?
On the surface, there may not seem to be a particularly obvious correlation between the working life of a professional performer and that of an EYFS practitioner, but the similarities are there. Our Statutory Framework lays down three different ways that children learn: playing and exploring; active learning; and creating and thinking critically - not just characteristics of effective teaching and learning, but essentials in the toolkit of any performer!