Tuning Out the Teachers

Educational Risk Caused by AirPods Being Evaluated by School Board


Lili Perez

HSE Board of School Trustees postponed public comments regarding the ruling on the dress code on March 22, 2023. During a board work session, comments concerning dress code were frequently brought up, specifically regarding AirPods and how students at HSE Schools continue to ignore strict rules in the Student Handbook.  

The debate at the work session was between being comfortable in the classroom and respecting your teacher by engaging in the lesson without distractions. The majority of the board firmly believed wearing headphones was disrespectful towards not only the teacher but to learning itself.   

“We’re not a TikTok show. We’re not a fashion show. We’re not a social engagement,” school board member Suzanne Thomas said. “We are a place for kids to have an education.”  

According to the HSE Student Handbook, “AirPods/headphones are not to be used by students in the classroom unless explicitly stated otherwise by the teacher, substitute teacher, or administrator. Students using … headphones inappropriately and/or against classroom procedures may be subject to progressive discipline.” 

Despite the requirement for all students to sign the Student Handbook at the beginning of the year, teachers and staff struggle to enforce this standard. 

“Earbuds detract from attention,” Athletic Director Jim Self said during a press conference with student journalists. “It’s a sign of respect to take [headphones] out in a classroom professional setting. Schools should be a professional setting.” 

First and foremost, school administrators are being pushed by parents to enforce the rules with a stern standing, since students refuse to listen. Teachers are beginning to take possession of students’ phones, AirPods and personal belongings due to the disruption of learning.  

“If you are not listening you are not retaining half the information,” social studies teacher, Annie Pucillo said. “It is rude to wear headphones when a teacher is talking, and you are only giving me half of your attention.” 

 Despite the push for more severe punishment, some students still wear headphones because they feel noise canceling or music helps them focus on work and blocks out distracting noise.   

“I think having the opportunity to wear headphones can be beneficial to students,” freshman Caroline Baer said. “AirPods help lower overstimulation.” 

Overstimulation is when your senses are flooded with information, and it is difficult to properly comprehend the information you are acquiring. Students who are Highly Sensitive or have ADHD use headphones to concentrate and silence loud disturbances.  

“I like music in the background of class, but only during unstructured time,” Pucillo said. “There is a time and a place to wear headphones.”