Posts Tagged ‘Children and concentration’

Why is it Always the Kids’ Fault?

February 11, 2014

tristam hunt

The UK’s Educational Secretary, Tristram Hunt, has called for schoolchildren to be given ‘concentration lessons’, to fight the effects of social media and digital gadgets.

You know what this makes me want to do?

Confiscate Mr. Hunt’s phone for the day. See how he copes without his “digital gadget”.

I bet he feels naked without his “distractions.”

And it’s this rank hypocrisy that is endemic among educational ‘experts’. Here are a few examples of the prevailing double standards I am referring to:

1. They call on teachers to instruct children to become more resilient when studies show that children are far more resilient than adults.

2. They legislate against lunches that c0ntain cheese and yogurt and crisps when the average staff room often contains cakes and biscuits and lollies.

3. They become obsessed with ICT to the point where schools are expected to heavily integrate iPads and interactive Smartboards apps, but then complain that such technologies are causing our children to lose concentration.

Why do we always focus on a child’s lack of concentration and never on a teachers ability to engage? Why is it always that children have lost the capacity to maintain concentration and never that the teacher has offered up a turgid series of worksheets and unimaginative activities?

If you think the children of today are that much worse than you or I when it comes to concentration, attend a professional development seminar and observe all the bored teachers scribbling on their handouts and staring out the window.

And yes, watch as many of them will reach for their digital gadgets at some point during the lecture to catch up with any Facebook updates they may have missed.

Pure hypocrisy!

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What our System Does to Children Without Attention Spans

August 7, 2012

Why is it alright for children to be tone deaf  at music or fail at sport but it’s not acceptable for children to struggle to maintain concentration?

Why do educators believe that if you easily lose concentration you have a disability that must be fixed. Remember, these are the same teachers whose minds wander during professional development sessions and who stare into space during staff meetings. Yet, when their students gaze out the windows while they’re teaching a maths skill – it’s time to get the child assessed!

Talk about hypocrisy!

Teachers are obsessed with fixing the attention spans of children. They call for hearing tests, speech analysis, psychological examinations, occupational therapy sessions, language disorder checks and if you are really unlucky start the ADHD ball rolling.

Do they ever consider that children are not all meant to have endless attention spans? Just like every child can’t draw a landscape, every child cannot sustain a 20 minute mat session. What is it with mat sessions anyway? When is the last time a teacher tried to sit on a floor without so much as back rest to lean on for an extended period of time? It’s unbelievably uncomfortable! Yet you get teachers complaining all the time about children not sitting still or failing to pay attention. Try paying attention when your back feels like it was just hit by a rolling pin!

And have teachers ever contemplated that it might be their dry and boring style of teaching and their failure to properly communicate to children that has their class zoning off completely? Worksheet dense, talky, stagnant lessons result in inattentive students – guaranteed!

So a recent study shows that children with better concentration spans have a better academic success rate. In my view this study tells us more about the way we teach than the virtues of concentration:

Toddlers who are better at concentrating, taking directions and persisting with a game even after hitting difficulties have a 50 per cent greater chance of getting a degree when older, a two-decade long experiment found.

The study tracked 430 kids from pre-school to 21-years-old, monitoring academic and social development, behavioural skills and behaviour at home and in the classroom.

Parents were asked to watch how long the children would play with one particular toy while at home, while teachers were instructed to give the class a task and then monitor which toddlers gave up and which ones kept persevering until they had completed it.

Results of the study by Oregon State University were published in the online journal Early Childhood Research Quarterly.

The children most likely to go through further education were those who, at an early age, persisted in tasks and paid attention in pre-school sessions, said researchers.

Perhaps if classroom conditions changed we wouldn’t have to worry so much about the student without the super-human concentration endurance.

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