Protecting hearing

According to the World Health Organisation guidelines, listening to sounds above one hundred decibels for more than fifteen minutes a day will cause significant hearing impairment and eventually lead to hearing loss. They also suggest that listening to anything at more than eighty decibels should be limited to under eight hours a day.

We often read about how certain things produce different levels of volume, such as a train producing over one hundred decibels as it whooshes by. This knowledge to be managed with reference to proximity as well, of course. If we know a pneumatic drill produces one hundred and twenty decibels of sound, and stand next to it, we will experience the full aural impact. From a distance away, the impact is less.

What it does mean, for educators, is that we have to manage our children’s environment to avoid them suffering passive harm to their ears.

Play areas in schools can get very noisy over lunch times. If you happen to standing next to a group of kids playing a noisy but exciting game, just passive observance of the game will render you subject to the impact of the noise.

In schools, the sound of the loud school bells signifying the end of have to be rung at short bursts, rather than for continuous durations.

Older children may like to listen to loud music on their way to and from school. We see them plugged into their headphones, listening to loud music, such as punk music, pop chart music or metal.

On their way home they pass by noisy vehicles that blare out Dance Music as if it were cool to do so.

Then they have go on their computer games or phones and other sorts of devices and listen to what we might “technology music“, music that has been produced by for that purpose.

That is a lot of sound they are being exposed to.

We often talk about limiting screen time for children and are more conscious about that, getting them to rest their eyes and avoiding prolonged focussing and exposure. But what we have to realise that the ears are exposed to sounds and noises too.

Loud noise can have a debilitating impact. Just ask RB Lepzig football player Timo Werner, who experienced dizziness while playing against noisy Besiktas, and had to be substituted midway through the first half.

We have to protect society’s children from increasing levels of sound in society, so that they can live quality lives when they are older.

Teaching Children the art of balancing

Among the useful life skills we can teach or children is the skill of learning to balance. Because life is about balancing. And when I speak about balancing, I don’t mean the physical skill if riding a bike or going about on a scooter. I refer to the skill of leaning on one set of rules on one occasion, and on another set at a different time.

Why is balancing important? It is because as adults we give children many layers of instruction. Depending on perhaps how liberal a parent it, the instructions can come more positively-wrapped, or a series of admonishments. “Stay close.” “Don’t do that.” “Don’t go there.” When we give children a seires of instructions that we expect them to follow through, in their minds they will be working out the reasons for these. Why does Mummy not want me to go near the tree? Because she is afraid I may fall. Why does Daddy want me to stop at the end of the road. In fact, why is he hollering “Stop!” at me when I know to stop? Because it is dangerous.

The unfortunate thing about negative parenting – or what appears to be negative anyway – is that compounded over time it can just bury the child under a series of Not To Dos. And repeated over time, it does foster a spirit of not trying, because everything is dangerous. If we repeatedly rein in our children, and curb their spirit, affter a while they do it to themselves.

Growing up, I knew of a friend that had often been told by his parents not to do this and that. Perhaps it was because he was the youngest of three children, and their instructions to him to keep safe (“Don’t do that) were more a way of keeping him reined him while they tried to manage the other two children. Slowly this friend grew to adopt the spirit that had been trained on him. But when he was in his teens and seemed to his parents to be developing into some sort of anti-social spirit (he is fine by the way), they were trying to encourage him to go out and make more friends. “Go out and socialise! Go meet more friends! Leave your room and meet new people!” Unfortunately the advice he was receiving was in direct contradiction to what he had been previously taught.

We give instructions to children because that is the quickest way of getting them to do something that is safe. Some of it is positive, some is negative. Sometimes there are two different sets of rules for social situations. We sometimes, for example, encourage children to give their best and try their hardest. Yet, at a birthday party for a friend, sometimes we have to teach them the skill of letting the birthday boy or girl win at a game of say, pass the parcel. We have to teach the children which rule to adhere to, and the skill of balance – knowing which one to choose.

We encourage children to be compliant, but sometimes we have to encourage them to be creative and go against the grain too. The Classical composer Richard Wagner was trained – as most musicians were – in the past generational ideas of harmony, and while his earliest work displayed a strong influence of the past, he realised that it was artistically sterile to merely repeat what had been done already, and if he did so, his own self would merely be subsumed in a long ancestral line of artistry. He needed to break free, and this is why as his musical work progressed, it broke free of the past structures of harmony. But Wagner could not merely write chromatic and dissonant music in a complete break with the past. Otherwise his music would be completely at odds with the status quo and he would have been an outsider inhabiting a different world to his surroundings. It was in the balance of new ideas with old existing ones which produced his best masterpieces, one where new ideas of harmony blend with traditional ones. Wagner found his balance. You can read more about this from the piano teacher crouch end blog.

Balancing is the switching between two sets of rules as the situation dictates. In life we are often given set rules but none of them are fixed; only situational. The skill of balancing is an important one to pass on to our children.