I don’t think there can be a single human left in the country who isn’t aware of fidget spinners, the huge number of children buying them, and the growing number of schools banning them.
There are national newspapers and teaching union websites devoting half pages to the subject of spinners. Children are walking around town centres flicking them and fast-thinking shop owners are adding boxes of them to their cash and carry lists.
The general feeling in education is that they are a right pain and that we wish they would whir off somewhere, far from our classrooms.
Not me though. I like them. I think that they are good for many reasons and I think that banning them is not the right approach. Here’s what I think:
- All crazes come and go. They won’t even be ‘a thing’ in a few months. Stay calm, ride the wave, don’t fight it. We have had Tamagotchi, Yoyos, Beyblades, Loom Bands – we’ve done this plenty of times.
- If you can’t control whether or not the kids in your class are allowed to get them out and spin them, then you’ve likely got way more to worry about than these little things. You call the shots. Put them away until break time. Unless you have agreed that an individual is in real need of one, and in that case, it’s OK then. No hassle.
- They are mechanical. They are good, solid, real items with ball bearings and lessons to be learned about friction, momentum, balance, energy transfer. We moan about the constant lure of the glowing screen and how to get the kids engaged with good old fashioned toys, then we moan when they find a good old fashioned mechanical toy.
- They are not expensive. You can get one for £2.99, a decent one that no one will mock you for. Nearly all children will have access to something at this price point. They are not an elitist item and that is a bloody great thing.
- There will be some children who really benefit from these things. I wish they had been around 30 / 40 years ago when my two older brothers, both autistic, were at school. They were mocked and ridiculed for spinning toys and flicking rubber bands in the periphery of their vision. A spinner in the hands of an ASD child will be just like a spinner in the hands of a non-ASD child. There is an equity. Normalising things that were considered ‘special needs’ helps to break down barriers and promote understanding.
For me, save for one child for whom an Ed Psych has recommended a spinner for, the rest of the kids have to keep them in their bags until playtime. Then, if I’m on duty, I’ll meet them by the boot room doors with mine. Spin time.