As many of you know, I am a physical therapist and for the past 3 years I have gone into my local schools to work with children. Despite, me being in and out between about 10 different schools, I wasn't really exposed to much to the lunch room "politics".
I mean, I come in, go get my student and then work with them and leave. I might report to the teacher/TA how the session went but overall, I don't get time to see what the rest of the school is up to.
So, when I ended up talking to a teacher from a nearby school system and she was concerned about an upcoming debate between the teachers regarding lunches, I was taken aback that this was even an issue....until I found out some teachers wanted ALL the students to EAT IN SILENCE!
This was probably my face when I heard her say this.
I was dumb struck. I was blown away. I went...silent.
I wanted....No. I NEEDED to know more about this issue.
I decided to share what I found out. Today's post is focusing on the "why's" that caused silent lunches to even be a trending topic in schools. Here are 6 reason's why some teachers want to have silent lunches.
- The children “forget to eat” when they are talking "too much".
- The lunch room gets too noisy for nearby classes to be able to focus.
- The lunch personnel need to be able to quickly get the children’s attention in case of announcements, emergencies & control the flow of traffic - per'se.
- Less bullying.
- Loud environments don't promote learning and mess up the children's focus for the rest of the day.
- Silent lunches used a punishment.
- *In my opinion* It annoys some staff that they are not fully in control at that time.
Now, I'll give a few of these some justification. Whereas, others, I disagree with fully. Here how my thoughts
1. The children “forget to eat” when they are talking "too much".
They will learn from this with natural consequences. I mean, seriously? *eye roll* A child that does not eat enough at lunch will realize by the end of the afternoon they are hungry. They will then figure it out and start eating before talking at the next lunch.
Now, if you're thinking "But, Mikala. What about their nutrition?" (School lunch nutrient levels are another topic) or "What about kids that don't get full meals at home?". Please, don't take this out of context. I am all for children eating healthily, including at school. I want children to be afforded the healthiest meals and be able to eat them.
I am not saying I want them to go hungry. I mean, according to this study, "Students at schools that contract with a healthy school lunch vendor score higher on CA state achievement tests, with larger test score increases for students who are eligible for reduced price or free school lunches." And, you know me...I'm all about the research.
I am just saying that after a couple times of being hungry after not eating...they will figure it out and eat before talking next lunch.
2. The lunch room gets too noisy for nearby classes to be able to focus.
This concern makes the most sense to me. It definitely can affect learning if the children hear loud screams and laughter from outside their door.
Now, keep in mind, I'm not asking for a raging party lunchroom. I'm just asking for the kids to be able to talk and socialize with each other. (I'll give several reasons why this is vital to their growth and development in next blog.)
I still want teachers to calm the room down if it is getting out of hand so others can learn!
Also, as I digress, schools could also implement a staggered lunch schedule for less kids in the lunchroom at a time. I know, I know. There are probably 1001+ reasons why school's "can't" do this....but if we can go to the moon...we can figure out a better staggered lunch schedule.
3. The lunch personnel need to be able to quickly get the children’s attention in case of announcements, emergencies & control the flow of traffic.
Another point that makes sense. Teachers and staff are there to help the children learn and keep them safe. So, if they need a non-chaotic lunch room to be able to do that, then by all means keep a non-chaotic lunch room. But, is silent the best route?
Now, think about how you eat lunch.
I eat lunch typically with my co-workers in our staff room. We may or may not be on our computers but we are surely talking to each other. It isn't crazy. It isn't chaotic. It is actually very tame and I have faith that lunch room at schools can be the same; talking without chaos. (We have a large lunchroom in our hospital too. I've ate there as well. It is also not crazy or chaotic even with a larger amount of people).
Someone may make the point that is adults versus children. I understand. Lunchrooms at the school is much more chaotic than a hospital lunchroom probably ever is. This is where the teachers can use their professional judgement. If it is getting loud enough they couldn't quickly get everyone's attention, they should quiet the room some.
4. Less bullying
This one I have a hard time believing is factually backed.
When I went through school, bullying didn't just happen in the lunch room. It happened in the locker rooms, on the buses, between classrooms with side remarks and yes, in the lunch room. But, my point is taking away the ability to create friends and socialize with the people that support you, a quiet lunch room actually promotes more negative feelings by isolating children. For those who are bullied, making it harder.
5. Silent lunches as punishment.
I must be in the dark because I, again, didn't know this was a thing until I did some digging online. Apparently, if a student "mis-behaves" they can be sentenced to have lunch my yourself in silence. Maybe this is the modern day dunce hat? I mean, I'm not necessary against this one - if it fits the "crime" on a case by case basis - per student.
Was the student, deliberately yelling after warnings. Okay, makes sense.
Was the student, eating their lunch and now everybody gets a silent lunch because some others were loud? No. No, it doesn't.
When I was young we had to sit in alphabetical order if we were too loud. Like, somehow we just knew where to sit (maybe we were always loud?). But, all I remember from this was I got to sit by my elementary crush so it was the highlight of my day. LOL!
6. *In my opinion* It annoys some staff that they are not fully in control at that time.
Key work *SOME* staff. There are many many hundreds of thousands of amazing, talented, creative teachers and I have nothing but respect and love for them. I know you are helping raise our next generation of leaders and I thank you for that.
Just like in every setting and profession though, there are those who are not. They are not as caring as they could be.
They are not as patient as many in that field.
They are not trying their hardest to make our next generation better.
They just are not and because of that, they need to feel powerful through other means and sometimes that is by showing their ability to control situations...even when it doesn't need to be fully controlled.
Now these are just some of the reasons I found and discussed with my teacher friend for the silent lunchtimes. There are probably several more. Feel free to comment them below.
If you've kept with me this entire time, than you'll want to tune in for Part II where I will discuss the reasons against silent lunches---of course with research!
So far, are you for silent lunches all the time for schools?