Friday, June 26, 2015

NYT: Researcher tracks harmful impacts of noise, especially on students & schools

'[In the 1970s] someone suggested that she examine an elementary school near elevated tracks of the No. 1 line in Inwood, at Manhattan’s northern tip. Some students there were lagging in their studies. What Ms. Bronzaft found, in a widely publicized 1975 study, was that children in classrooms facing the tracks performed far worse than those on the other side of the building, the quieter side. 
“Not only were the trains disruptive, the teacher had to stop teaching,” Ms. Bronzaft recalled. “Teachers stopped about 11 percent of the time.” 
“Bottom line: By the sixth grade, the children were nearly a year behind those on the quiet side,” she said. 
On the heels of that study, transit officials cushioned the rails with rubber pads, and school administrators put insulation panels on classroom ceilings. A few years later, Ms. Bronzaft returned to that school. Reading levels had equalized on both sides of the building, she found. “What it demonstrated,” she said at lunch, “is that when you correct for noise, you can help children.”'
Read the article:
Raising Her Voice in Pursuit of a Quieter City
Arline Bronzaft Seeks a Less Noisy New York
(New York Times, by Clyde Haberman, Oct. 6, 2013)