Solving the ‘Peanuts’ Conundrum: The benefits of Better Acoustics in Schools and Offices

If you grew up at any time after 1950, you probably remember the famous ‘Peanuts‘ comic strip as well as the movies and made-for-television cartoons it inspired.

Speaking for myself, Charlie Brown, Lucy, Linus, Peppermint Patty and all of their friends were near and dear to my heart during childhood. One of my favorite running gags from the comic was the fact that all of their teachers sounded like an incomprehensible foghorn whenever they spoke. With all due respect to many of my teachers throughout my academic career, I can say with absolute certainty that at times their lectures also began to sound less like words and more like a monotonous honking. I’m sure everyone can relate; even as grownups, we’ve probably all sat in meetings or on conference calls where the words begin to blend together into noise.

That having been said, according to recent evidence, ‘Peanuts‘ might not have been entirely joking after all. According to one article published by the Rockwool Group, “…a recent study reveled that children tend to miss 25% of the words spoken by their teachers.”[1]What’s the biggest culprit for this lack of comprehension? No, it’s not ‘boring’ teachers… it’s noise pollution caused poor acoustics in classrooms. Noise is a proven distraction, negatively impacts comprehension, and lowers productivity. As builders and contractors, focusing on acoustics in your projects can help combat noise pollution, and foster more nurturing environments for learning and production.

Here are some good reasons to take acoustics seriously.

Noisy classrooms and offices don’t just hurt the listener– they can also impact the speaker

Whether it’s a teacher, a boss, or a presenter, spaces with poor acoustics often force presenters to over-amplify their voice to be heard. Over time, this can lead to strained and damaged vocal chords. A fairly simple set of the modification to the acoustics of a room, particularly to the ceiling and walls which tend to be the biggest problem areas can help not only those listening inside the space, but also those educating and informing.

Distracted workers are not productive workers

Poor acoustics lead to noise, and noise leads to lack of productivity, period. According to a modern life survey published by Google, “89% of people believe their productivity decreases with noise pollution.” As a boss or owner of a company, this statistic would encourage me to quickly invest in acoustic improvements to keep out unwanted noise, knowing my employees will be more efficient in a quieter, less distracting environment.

Aside from hearing and learning, better acoustics lead to better quality of life

Countless statistics exist demonstrating the impact noise can have on the health and wellness of individuals regularly exposed to it. Beyond the importance of fostering environments of better hearing, understanding and learning, by improving the acoustics of every building you construct, you are helping to ensure happier, healthier people within its walls, and that is by far the most important contribution you can make every day.


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