Chew away the nervous energy April 27, 2014 — by Shreya Tumu I sometimes find myself fidgeting and clicking my pen in class during a lecture. I can’t help it; I am a teenager with all this energy pent up inside me. I have trouble sitting still and I find the only way to concentrate is by doing something constantly. The perfect solution for me and anyone else who has the same problem is to vent all that nervous anxiety by chewing gum. I sometimes find myself fidgeting and clicking my pen in class during a lecture. I can’t help it; I am a teenager with all this energy pent up inside me. I have trouble sitting still and I find the only way to concentrate is by doing something constantly. The perfect solution for me and anyone else who has the same problem is to vent all that nervous anxiety by chewing gum. Chewing gum helps students stay focused for longer tasks that require concentration and also has been proven to benefit some aspects of long-term memory. Not only does chewing gum give students a way to spend excess energy, it also prevents them from getting bored during a lecture or a documentary. Lectures are a form of passive learning, where only the mind is at work. For me at least, it can be really hard to train my mind to focus on just one thing in particular. Take the analogy of a mother and her pestering child. The child will continue to pester the mother until the child is occupied with something else. The child is like our body “pestering” our mind and in order to stop the pestering we keep our “child” side occupied by letting it chew gum. Teachers might find gum chewing distracting, especially if the student is blowing bubbles or making popping sounds, but in reality, it takes a lot of effort to smack around the gum in order for it to be so annoyingly conspicuous. Instead, most people just quietly chew their gum, and it’s hardly ever noticeable. Some teachers also mistakenly assume that students incorrectly dispose of their gum by either throwing it on the floor or sticking it underneath desks. What they don’t realize, however, is that students too find this disgusting and will often refrain from doing that and just throw away their in trash. The problem here is that a few careless people ruin it for everyone. The fact is that some people are too lazy to move to the nearest garbage and they give the rest of us gum-chewers a bad reputation. If students show that they can dispose of gum correctly and refrain from making a distraction in class, there is no reason why teachers should prohibit gum chewing. I checked underneath all the desks I sit in for six of my classes, and I was surprised find no ugly sticky pieces of gum, adding support to the idea that the ban on gum chewing is an overreaction. Gum personally increases my ability to read at a faster pace. I read with my “internal voice,” known as subvocalization, which means I can read only as fast as my mouth moves to the words. If my mouth is otherwise occupied with chewing gum, then it’ll have something else to do. It encourages my mind to read at the fastest pace possible. During tests and stressful situations tension builds up around the jaw, and by chewing gum, I allow my jaw to exercise and release all the tension. Chomping away boosts thinking and alertness and the ability to process information among chewers are up to 10 percent faster. Gum also fends off hunger because you are giving your stomach fake signals that you are eating, although you actually are not. This can also help a student focus instead of daydreaming about their next meal. So I have learned to chew gum to better focus, concentrate and be more alert. I can overcome my slow reading pace and my hunger pangs, all because of one small piece of gum. So teachers, let my pestering “child” be happy and allow gum chewing.