*This blog post was featured as a guest post on Fed Up With Lunch: The School Lunch Project
Within the school district I attend, I travel to four or more schools a day visiting students of various grades (preschool -12th grade). I have recently started reading Mrs. Q’s blog, Fed Up With Lunch: The School Lunch Project, with intense fascination which inspired this blog post.
As you can see from my job description, I am a broadly experienced user of school cafeterias. What I absolutely despise about the school cafeteria is the noise: The cacophony of screamingly loud chatter, the clank of lunch trays, and the screech of chairs. As a person with a hearing loss, the noise makes it impossible for me to have a conversation. The noise is so great, that I have to take out my hearing aid.
If you do a search about noise in the cafeteria, you will find hundreds of entries and articles about this subject. I found out that the in several American school cafeterias measured at 70-85 dB (decibel)! A decibel is a unit used to measure the intensity or loudness of a sound. To give you an idea, a normal conversation measures at 60 dB. A lawnmower measures at 85-90 dB.
For anyone, the lawnmower-level noise makes conversation impossible. As a teacher, I am concerned that it is damaging the students’ social skills as well as their hearing.
For those of normal hearing, keep in mind that a constant exposure to that level of noise can do permanent damage. Fortunately, 30 to 45 minutes a lunch is most likely not long enough to be damaging. Nonetheless, the noise is for all annoying, and having to shout is not conducive to manners or digestion.