The popular fidget aids are supposed to help individual pupils concentrate, but instead they are distracting my entire class
I was relieved to find the bottle-flipping phenomenon had passed when I returned to school in January. Having already endured many teenage fads (I still find the “let’s try to stab in between our fingers with a compass” trend the most traumatising to reminisce about) we were beginning to hope that we could make it to the end of the academic year without another craze. Then came the fidget cube and its malignant spawn:
The brainchild of Kickstarter go-getters Matthew and Mark McLachlan, the fidget cube has graced many classrooms across the country since February. It is a small plastic device around two cubed-inches which features a variety of clickable, twistable, rub-able and flick-able surfaces. The makers claim the cube channels disruptive fidgeting such as biros being irreparably deconstructed and rulers being wobbled (and snapped) on the edge of tables. They also claim it increases memory capacity and boosts creativity.
Many users have hailed the cube as a welcome relief to classroom fidgeting and the McLachlan brothers are hoping that its in-class benefits will show that fidgeting ought not to be “stigmatised and mocked as unbecoming or inappropriate”. I agree that these gadgets benefit some students with special educational needs (SEN) in certain situations, but to claim that they will destigmatise fidgeting is spurious.
My problem with the fidget cube is not with the beneficial effects it claims to have on its users – though the jury is still out on this matter – but with the effect it has on others in the classroom. When used performatively, students crane their necks to catch a glimpse of it. Yet even when used discreetly under the table, I see students glancing down to look at it, drawn by the various clicking noises. It’s an inescapable distraction. It may be because of its novelty – perhaps over time pupils will become less interested – but for me this is not enough of a reason to continue justifying its presence.