Teacher journal archive (2008-2011)

Article Title

The netgeneration : may I please have your attention?


Teachers and the students they teach face a crisis of attention, it seems, or perhaps that should be 'inattention'. They respond to every beep of the latest tech-toy and connectivity has permeated every aspect of life. The trouble is that the central nervous system can only process about 100 bits of information per second, and if the brain is overburdened it becomes inefficient and mistake-prone. The real attention crisis comes back to the human ability or otherwise to focus or concentrate, although this is not necessarily a panacea: an unwavering focus - the inability to be distracted - can actually be just as problematic as ADHD. It is worth thinking about concentration and focus, since they are not exactly the same thing. We can concentrate more or less, but our focus can be broad or narrow. It could be that a broader focus is a key attention skill for learning in the 21st century. It might actually be the case that the students of the so-called net-generation are not so much inattentive as super-attentive, not distracted but super-attracted to more and linked information and ideas, if in short bursts. [Author abstract, ed]