Administrators and teachers have long argued that students should not chew gum in school. For decades, it has been a standard school rule that no gum is allowed. These adults have argued that students don’t dispose of gum properly and chewing can be a distraction. Recently, however, studies have shown that gum chewing can help improve attention and focus, and when allowed, students properly dispose of gum. In fact, 65% of professional athletes report chewing gum before or during a game in order to relieve stress. Maybe it is time we re-examine our no-gum-chewing policy.
According to the National Institute of Health, chewing gum can reduce anxiety and tiredness. Students who chew gum report feeling more relaxed and alert. And 65% of professional athletes report chewing gum before or during a game in order to relieve stress. Chewing gum reduces cortisol levels which improves an individual’s mood. Improved alertness and a more relaxed state improves memory and student’s performance. Through his research, Dr. Kenneth Allen, a professor at New York University, has proven that chewing gum releases insulin, which improves brain function and memory. It’s hard to argue against the improved attention and mood that chewing gum can create.
The biggest reason teachers and administrators argue against gum chewing is because they think it is rude, distracting, and messy. If gum were allowed in school, students wouldn’t feel the need to be sneaky and stick it on furniture. Students wouldn’t have to risk getting in trouble and instead would dispose of it properly. Many teachers have reported seeing a decrease in gum spreading on furniture when they started allowing students to have it in the classroom. Some teachers feel it is rude to chew gum while a student is presenting. A teacher can set rules and an expectation that students will spit out their gum when presenting or participating in a class discussion where they may have to speak often. In order to curb the loud gum chewing or blowing bubbles that might cause a distraction, teachers would just need to set rules regarding the proper way to chew gum. Most students will choose to follow the rules rather than risk losing the privilege of chewing gum.
Given the power that chewing gum has over memory and attention, it seems illogical that we don’t allow it in school. The arguments against gum chewing can all be addressed with a few classroom rules, which is how teachers set the limits and boundaries in a number of areas for students. The academic and mood benefits should outweigh the slight risk that a student might cause a distraction by blowing a bubble in class.