Attention Span and its Influence in Education

Attention Span Education OwlToday, education faces one of the biggest challenges ever: the decreasing of students’ attention span due to over-stimulation of their brain by external stimuli, which requires their attention in a immediate and intermittent way.

To ask for their attention through traditional learning methods, and expect them to blindly trust that it will be useful in their lives and that it will bring them medium-long term gratification, demonstrates to be a futile effort, due to the behavioral systematization raised by the mechanics of those external stimuli.

These stimuli promise an almost instant reward in exchange for the persons’ attention. As such, the individual ends up being “trained” to instantly perceive value on what is being presented to him, under penalty of, otherwise, immediately losing focus on the subject. This behavior is many times reported as being a psychiatric disorder called Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

Lack of attention leads to a new need

Instead of trying to adapt students to the traditional teaching methods, why not adapt or evolve the teaching methods to the needs of the student? The change in this paradigm requires Education to adopt other systems that work well with the logic of instant perception of value on what is being transmitted to the students.

One of the most significant structures of human evolution that has been showing a huge resistance to change is precisely… the Education. Because of that, the number of parents wanting their kids to be educated at home, instead of attending the traditional schools has been increasing.

Leo Tolstoi was responsible for a good example of evolutionary inertia when, in 1862, he presented a completely game-changing and progressive vision on the Education System, which ended up not having any effect on society. Education needs to evolve in a way so it keeps following the needs of the new generations, continuing this way to be the most relevant mark in the individual’s personal and intellectual development. As we watch the Internet usage increasing, the search of knowledge has now a more proactive role in students, opposed to the passive method previously applied. With search engines, knowledge became even more accessible than before to those who are in need of it.

Knowledge comes from the need of it

This means that most of the times no longer the student needs to have a good knowledge on any matter before he or she needs it, since he knows that as soon as the need for it arises, he will have the necessary tools at his or her disposal.

However, prior knowledge to the occurrence of problems is essential, if only to recognize and prevent this very occurrence. As such, the school must be able to create the scenario where the student needs some specific knowledge, in order to make him want to look for the solution in a proactive manner.

It would be simple enough to start issuing challenges to the students, so that they would solve them by themselves. But nowadays, due to the short attention span, as we referred previously, it is necessary to show the students the immediate value of that specific challenge. Educators must grab their students’ immediate attention. Otherwise the students will have given up, even before they start trying!

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