Can you hear me back there?

So it turns out that the kids at the back of the class may not  actually be in a coma – it could be that they simply can’t hear what is being said up front. Maclean’s magazine just ran an article spotlighting the growing use of classroom amplification systems to ensure that the instruction can penetrate the din of distractors and reach the learners.

Apparently, students farther than 3.5 meters from the teacher can miss up to  50% of what is said due to air conditioning, chatter, classroom acoustics, the prevalence of ear-infections and the fact that pre-adolescent brains are still learning to filter out noise.  These audio systems distribute sound so that a back-seater hears the same as a front-seater.  Teacher’s throats everywhere are singing for joy.

My questions are:

  • Why are we only discovering this now? This amazing microphone/speaker technology has – it turns out – actually been around for a while.
  • What other  hidden structural barriers to performance are lurking out there sabotaging learning-opportunities?
  • How many of these problems are fixable with methods/technology that are so astonishingly plain?