Quiet-List 1997

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Re: Making some noise on quieting



Karen Jankowski,

>Sometimes background music in the classroom is not a bad thing depending
>on the class.  Studies show that some classiscal music played low in a
>math class tends to help students with their math problems.

Music may be or may be not noise. In my experience, when I'm performing
any task not involving severe mental effort, I can stand and also enjoy 
music (However, I enjoy it best when listening to it is my sole activity).

But when I must concentrate, say doing any creative task, or any task
demanding an elusive "Aha!", music, as well as many other sounds or 
noises, disturbs me. 

School and college math teaching is usually deprived of actual
problem-solving situations or challenges. Very often the so-called 
"problems" are mere operational excercises, which do not require more
concentration than the necessary to avoid mistakes when applying rather
direct rules.

In fact it is possible that such kind of activity be facilitated by
listening to some soft music.

Anyway, regarding the experience you describe:

>One of my professors at school allows us to listen to music (radio 
>stations only with headphones) when we took our calc final.  Those of 
>us that did this got better grades.

I ask the following: 

1) Are you sure that without music those of you who got better grades 
   wouldn't have earned even better grades?
2) Isn't it possible that those students who didn't listen to music
   would have gotten worse grades yet if obliged to do so?
3) The students who listened to the radio were chosen randomly to do 
   so or they asked to be allowed to listen to the radio? 
4) Were in a subsequent exam the students who listened to the radio 
   rotated so to avoid any bias in the research?

There are theories which account for correlation between musical skills
and math ability. My explanation is that perhaps those of you who where
listening to the radio were precisely those more musically and hence
mathematically inclined.
  
Best regards,

Federico Miyara

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