The pros and cons of chewing gum in class

Chewing gum in class: Yay or nay?


Katie Arnoult

Chewing gum while working on assignments such as math equations can help with focus and concentration.

LOS ALAMITOS, CA — Students love chewing gum at school because it helps them focus, but staff dislikes the mess it makes in their classrooms!

The fiery debate continues about whether chewing gum in class should be allowed. Research backs it up, saying that gum can be beneficial, but the reality of it among high school students can be quite sticky. Technically, in the Los Alamitos High School student handbook, there is nothing mentioned about gum being prohibited during class. However, the handbook does discuss multiple times that eating in class and littering is not allowed. So, this great gum dispute is still open to discussion!

Pro: Chewing gum helps with focus

One pro about chewing gum in class is that it helps with focus and concentration. A study from Cardiff University showed that chewing gum while working on long tasks can help you maintain focus. Results from the study revealed that those who chewed gum while performing tasks had a faster reaction rate and more error-free testing results compared to those who did not chew gum. 

“Interestingly, participants who didn’t chew gum performed slightly better at the beginning of the task but were overtaken by the end,” said Kate Morgan, who supervised the study in an article by Science Daily. “This suggests that chewing gum helps us focus on tasks that require continuous monitoring over a longer amount of time.”

Griffin Gazette conducted a survey from a sample group of students from Los Al. Many of the students agreed that chewing gum in class helps them focus on assignments and classwork, and the flavor of the gum adds even more to the benefit.

It can keep people awake, and I think students appreciate when teachers give them certain freedoms in class.”

— Bella Kim, sophomore

Pro: Chewing gum helps with oral health and bad breath

While chewing gum is not the miracle bad breath cure we all wish we had, it can help cover it up.

“Chewing sugarless gum has been shown to increase the flow of saliva, thereby reducing plaque acid, strengthening the teeth, and reducing tooth decay,” according to the American Dental Association. Saliva is the mouth’s way of getting rid of plaque buildup, which is a cause of bad breath. 

The majority of the surveyed students responded that their favorite flavors of chewing gum were either spearmint or bubblegum, two very popular flavors that can help with nasty breath.

Con: Chewing gum is distracting

Many loathe the sound of people chewing gum, especially with their mouths open. This is probably not something that students want to hear while they’re taking a quiz in English class or solving complicated equations in math class. And this is likely something that irritates many teachers as well.

“It’s disruptive to classmates, especially when the room is silent,” said senior Alicia Tan.

“It’s annoying if you chew gum with your mouth open,” said sophomore Isabella Gasper.

Ms. Stephanie Fajardo, a Biology and Physical Universe teacher in Los Al, says that gum is not very distracting for her, but rather it is a matter of whether the student is being loud on purpose.

“There’s chewing gum, and then there’s obnoxious chewing gum,” she said. “I’ve never had the obnoxious one… my [students] know how to self-regulate enough for that… but it gets down to a personal thing, like, why are you chewing gum obnoxiously during class?”

Con: Chewing gum makes a mess!

We see it on stairs, on the ground, on the underside of our desks, and on the bottoms of our shoes if we get unlucky. And we find wrappers in a thousand places other than the trash can. While chewing gum may help us as students, it does not exactly help our campus and classrooms.

“People have no respect nowadays, so the bottoms of desks and ground around the school will be strewn with gum,” said senior Sean Macdonald.

“Some nasty people leave it on the desk and then it gets on your hands,” Sarah Urquiza, a freshman, said.

“I always hate to see when someone accidentally steps or sits in gum,” said Mr. Bill Konieczny, Los Al’s day custodian.  “It’s a big mess that can stay with you all day and can sometimes even ruin your clothes, etc.”

However, Mr. Konieczny stated that the problem is not chewing gum itself, but the way that students dispose of it.

Often times gum is not thrown away properly, but even when it is put directly in the trash, it still creates an unhygienic situation where people will either spit the gum into the trash or they will take it out of their mouth by hand and throw it away without sanitizing hands after.”

— Mr. Bill Konieczny

“Gum can cause permanent damage,” said French teacher Mrs. Karla McCann, adding that the thought of new school equipment and classrooms, such as the new STEM building, being polluted with old gum over the years, is disheartening if we want to keep our campus clean.

“Just know that [students] may come and go, but [teachers] are still here, and we’re still in the same classrooms year after year, and some of us really want to have a nice environment for kids,” Mrs. McCann said. “We just want to keep our classrooms looking nice.”

Now what?

“I think that gum should be allowed for the majority of classes, but maybe not in language classes and physical classes,” said freshman Addison Price.

Chewing gum’s mess and hassle may be tiresome, but it is not exactly as much of an urgent matter as some other issues that Los Al might be dealing with.

“Trying to enforce too many rules on students can give them a negative impact on school… and feel really restricted,” said Ms. Fajardo. “I don’t think it’s been a problem [that] needs to be enforced too heavily… Is it the best? No, but I don’t think it’s a raise for alarm.”

Chewing gum at school definitely will not go away anytime soon, but perhaps steps can be taken to reduce the mess that comes after it.

Chewing gum at school definitely has its pros and cons, and I believe that being able to chew gum at school is a privilege. As long as the rules of chewing gum are respected then it will continue to be an amazing privilege to have.”

— Mr. Tyler Mortensen, Los Al plant manager