As parents, we've at times all wondered whether our children, and the tsetse fly (and now apparently the goldfish) share something in common. And now science has unfortunately confirmed our suspicions.
Here's the bad news.
According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, at the U.S. National Library of Medicine, the average attention span of a human being has dropped from 12 seconds in 2000 to 8 seconds in 2013. This is one second less than the attention span of a goldfish.
Here's the good news (well at least the not so bad news).
Attention span is defined as the amount of concentrated time one can spend on a task without becoming distracted. But sustained attention span is the one that really matters. And here we are doing a little better than Mr. Goldfish. Sustained attention span is what produces the most consistent learning results over time. A recent study by psychologists has determined that, over the last 10 years, our average sustained attention span has fallen from 12 minutes to just 5 minutes. So what does this mean? It means that when teaching our children something new, they are giving us approximately 5 minutes of focused, sustained attention to make it stick.
Not surpisingly, many leading educators believe that the best method of actually teaching a subject is by delivering short, multiple, engaging bursts of information, repeatedly, over an extended period of time. In other words, capturing kids attention and then engaging them with rich content, in a compressed time period, leads to maximum learning absorption. It's kind of a riff on the old "repetition gets results" theory updated for the digital age.
Getting kids excited about learning is not easy. But fortunately, as parents, modern technology provides us with a lot of options other than the dry text books and long, boring lectures of the past (and in the case of a lot of schools, still the present). And I don't just mean on line, monthly subscription "learning platforms" that really are just a bunch of games disguised as a teaching method. Time is precious. We've always known this, even without science confirming it. And every moment we have to prepare our children for their future is priceless. Let's use them wisely.
At FutureSoBrite we believe that every child deserves a bright future, and that education makes all things possible. We believe great education doesn't just happen in school, it also happens at home. We are educators and parents who believe lessons learned at home are the foundations for lessons learned in life. Because teachers teach the class, but parents teach the child.