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More gum than carpet in our schools

Some children are actively encouraged to chew gum whilst in class. At first glance, this seems like absolute madness. In the past children caught chewing gum would most likely have been sent to the head teacher, put into instant detention and never allowed to see the light of day again Encouraging chewing gum may seem like an invitation to see gum all over the floor, under the chairs and carefully squished underneath all the school desks.

But there’s actually a fair amount of emerging research to suggest that chewing might be beneficial when it comes to concentration, memory and staying alert. A study from the British Journal of Psychology highlighted the fact that participants who chewed were able to maintain better levels of concentration across a very tedious half-hour long audio task. The chewers had a quicker reaction time and far more accuracy than their still-mouthed friends in the control group. Chewing, it seems, may have lots of hidden benefits. It has been suggested that it might even help increase the heart rate thus keeping an active brain steadily supplied with plenty of oxygen.

Although these studies were all done with adult participants, there’s no real reason why children couldn't see the same benefits from chewing whilst they learn. Could this be the reason why the underneaths of most school desks are covered with gum dating back forty years or so?

For the teacher or caretaker who wants to bring their children’s school tables and school chairs back to a pristine condition, we suggest the following simple approaches to clearing away the unwanted gum.

Freeze method - This is a tried and tested method as old as gum chewing itself. Get a resealable bag and fill it with ice. Press it against the gum for a few minutes and let the gum freeze. Once it is frozen the gum can usually be chipped off quite easily. Now simply repeat another 5000 times for every piece of gum.

Oil method - Take a paper towel and rub vegetable oil all around the area where the gum is placed. The oil should help dissolve and loosen the gum, you will find with a bit of vigorous pushing and pulling the gum will come away.

However you happen to feel about gum, you can’t deny that those little sticky blobs have become a traditional part of the education system and most of us left school with a mild phobia of reaching under a desk without checking!

Posted by: Josh Seddon

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