Bubble tests take on new meaning

gum_1775702cWhen my sons were in school, they were fed “superdonuts” on test days to boost test scores. Now kids are supposed to chew gum for better test scores.

I first read this in a column by Tribune writer John Keilman, who reported that his children’s Chicago-area school recommended sending them to school with gum and mints on test days.  In an earlier article on the same subject, he found that

in a study funded by the Wrigley Science Institute, nutrition professor Craig Johnston found a link between gum chewing and better performance among eighth-grade math students. Johnston, who works at Houston’s Baylor College of Medicine, couldn’t say exactly why that happened, though he noted that some studies have suggested that chewing increases blood flow to the prefrontal cortex.

Geez, I didn’t even know there was a Wrigley Science Institute.

Some Germans apparently like this strategy, too. The London Telegraph reports:

Wolfgang Ellegast from the Education Ministry in the southern German state, says children at the Volkenschwand school are being allowed to chew gum because it “is good for the children’s health and improves their cognitive performance”. Hans Dasch, the school’s headmaster, said no one was being forced to chew gum. “But it helps the children concentrate and deal with stress, particularly during written tests”, he said. “The prerequisite for learning with fun is that kids come to school without fear and that they feel happy … Therefore we are encouraging them to chew gum in break and in lessons.”

Here’s an idea from the PURE Science Institute: let’s focus on giving every child a sound, high-quality education and stop testing them to the point of stress. Our research shows that children are happier when they are excited about what they are learning than when they are chewing gum.


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About the PURE Thoughts blogger
Julie Woestehoff is PURE's executive director. Julie's work has earned her a Ford Foundation award and recognition as one of the 100 Most Powerful Women in Chicago.