Chewing gum helps Swedish students learn

Students at elementary school Parkskolan in Älvsbyn, a small town in northern Sweden, chew gum in class, supported by studies that show gum chewing increases concentration and study results.

Chewing gum helps Swedish students learn

The National Union of Teachers in Sweden (Lärarnas riksförbund) are not impressed, however, and call the decision to allow classroom chewing “offensive” to teachers, according to a report in newspaper Aftonbladet.

The school allows chewing gum in certain middle school classrooms, and the permit is dependent on both students’ and parents’ approval. Only sugar-free gum is permitted.

The school claims the gum improves students’ performance in school.

“I chew maybe five or six sticks of gum every day in school, during almost all lessons except the one just before lunch,” said fifth-grader Anna Ljuslinder to Aftonbladet.

“I always chew gum when we have maths or science. It makes me focus, otherwise I just sit and talk and don’t hear what the teacher says,” she said.

Research has proven her experience correct: studies show that chewing gum can help improve both concentration and alertness. A possible explanation for this may be that activating our jaws in a chewing motion increases blood flow to the brain.

However, the teachers’ union have criticised the gum-chewing as a sub-standard way of handling the children’s learning.

“This is a way to de-professionalise teachers. I find this offensive to teachers as a profession,” said Metta Fjellkner, chairwoman of the National Union of Teachers in Sweden, to Aftonbladet.

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