The media worry that if something exciting isn’t happening every few minutes, people will get bored, switch channels, find something else to do. Developing interest, concentrating and mulling things over seem to be discouraged in today’s society. It’s as if there isn’t the time to dwell on things, to think, to form ideas and develop opinions.
In the classroom this can have a damaging effect as children grow up in an increaingly restless climate. As we try and encourage thinking, questioning and deeper learning, we are obviously out of step with society. Children can become easily bored and increasingly, pressure is put on teachers to up the pace, move on quickly, keep the children stimulated lest they switch off from their learning etc…
I remember watching ‘Who wants to be a millionaire’ on TV a few years ago – to get through to the hot seat, contestants had to answer a relatively simple question (e.g. put a certain set of dates on order) in the quickest time. We would sit at home wondering how on earth these questions could be answered incorrectly. The reason of course is that in rushing them to get the answer down simple mistakes were made. The brain isn’t allowed to properly engage hence the forced errors.
Now I’m not suggesting there isn’t a need to quickly work out the change in your hand when shopping, or to react speedily when in certain situations. But I think there is a need to really allow children in school to develop the ability to concentrate, to recognise that learning isn’t all about mirroring a media culture that worries about losing its audience if it dwells too long on one thing. Children need to be exposed to real, authentic learning environments and they need to have the opportunity to engage in deep learning. Maybe developing such skills will enable them to question the very culture that currently relies on their obsession to exist.