Editorial: Let Students Decide How to Concentrate


Illustration by Jocelyn Urbina

You walk into a tutorial and notice dead silence. No one is talking and students are glued to the computers. You wonder how students can stay this focused.

The answer: music.

Eastside has a no-cellphone policy that isn’t going to change anytime soon. But in some classrooms teachers allow students to listen to music through headphones, while other teachers hold strict to the rule. During more than a year of remote learning, many students used different strategies to focus and stay on task, including listening to music.

The Eastside Panther editors believe that the school should normalize students listening to music with headphones in specific settings, because it helps some students concentrate while not disturbing others.

Music helps many students in numerous ways, by staying focused, helping students write and read or relaxing them. A study of 200 students published in a Research Journal of Pharmaceutical, Biological and Chemical Sciences in 2016 showed that 47% believe that music helps them to concentrate while studying, and 29% said music would keep their mind calm.

Some teachers have observed the same thing in their classes on campus and have used music themselves in college or later to enter a working frame of mind. In particular, music can help students get into a meditative state for writing.

It used to be that one student listening to music would risk irritating a student nearby because everyone didn’t have headphones or earpods. Now that isn’t the case – music lovers can choose their tunes and zone into their work, while those who prefer silence can go that way uninterrupted.

Opponents say that using a phone opens the door to more distractions, and that the rule against phones on campus helps everyone avoid temptation. Furthermore, some argue that students become so attached to their phones that it becomes a kind of dependency or addiction, which no one wants to see happen.

But students mostly aren’t addicted to their phones, and not having music available makes them try other methods to stay focused, like working outside or working with friends. In a lot of situations, students use the work time to socialize instead, and that ends up distracting the people around them, too. Ultimately, students who want to work but aren’t allowed to create a private zone with music have to resort to isolating themselves from friends. This isn’t the best solution either, is it?

With so many distractions at home or in any other environment we will encounter, students need to develop ways to focus even amid the distractions. Eastside should allow a variety of outlets to help students learn the best ways for each of us to focus on our work.