"Children Need Quiet to Learn, Study and Read"

The headline of this article, as quoted by Arline L. Bronzaft, Ph.D., a New York City-based noise specialist, is so obvious, and yet so neglected in schools.

Bronzaft is a strong proponent for educating administrators, planners and architects to the hazards of noise in schools. “The key thing is to educate that noise is a health hazard,” she says. “It diminishes the quality of life. In schools, it robs children of learning.”

Bronzaft says it’s time to quit studying the effects of noise on learning and start implementing techniques to create quieter schools. It isn’t difficult. Here are some starting points for designing a quiet classroom.

  1. Install double-glazed windows to keep the noise out.
  2. Seal ducts properly to prevent noise from traveling from one room to another.
  3. Install doors that keep the noise out. “If a door is closed, I shouldn’t hear children walking through the hallway,” says Bronzaft.
  4. Install acoustical ceiling tiles to absorb noise made by children inside the classroom.
  5. Likewise, install carpeting to absorb noise made by children inside the classroom.
  6. Beware noisy air conditioning units. “We have to be cognizant of design issues, but also of appliances,” says Bronzaft. “We have to design for quiet in a broad sense, but also in a narrow sense in terms of specific products.”

“We have to convince people that noise isn’t just an annoyance,” Bronzaft says, “It’s a health hazard. It causes stress. If I’m stressed, it’s causing wear and tear on my body. Children can not learn in a noisy environment.”

Bronzaft encourages administrators to speak out and be active when it comes to noise. “They can’t wait for the city to make a school quiet. They have to speak on behalf of the children.”

This article originally appeared in the November 2017 issue of School Planning & Management.

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