‘Short attention span.’ This is one of the ways children of the 21st century have
been described. It means that these children cannot maintain their focus for long
periods of time. There is even a neurodevelopmental condition referred to as
Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)—a disorder that explains why
some children and adults find it difficult to maintain focus or interest in an
These issues have plagued the education of many children, especially those who are
oblivious to the problem in the first place. It is common to find some learners
staring into space while a class is ongoing; some falling asleep; and others, looking,
but not seeing. The usual response by teachers is to call out these learners and
shame them; this, however, never works, as the children only concentrate for a few
more seconds before drifting away again. So, maybe it is time to begin considering
other solutions; this time, one that is long lasting.
The dawn of technology, innovation, and globalization has brought about rapid
changes in our world over the last century. These changes have seen mankind adopt
many new ways of combating life’s most pressing problems; they have affected
every area of our humanity, including the way we move, communicate, behave, and
interact with other humans. However, for some reason, these changes have stayed
far away from our schools and learning classrooms. Even where changes have
occurred, they have not been drastic or monumental, as with other areas of human
life. So, I ask: why? Why do students still have to learn the same content that was
centuries ago, in the same manner as they learned them before?
Schools and teachers must learn how to present educational content in new ways,
so that they appear fresh and tailored to the needs of the new generation of
learners. See social media for example: the big 5 social media platforms:
Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and TikTok have young people making use
of them on a daily basis. Per a research conducted by Uswitch, in 2020, the
average adult spends three hours a day on social media. And, for those of us on
social media, we can all agree that the exact same content revolves around the
different social media platforms; the only difference being their presentation.
What this means is that our young people can focus! There is a caveat, though: the
content must be worth their while.
Therefore, our schools and teachers should take a cue from social media. They
should understand that for educational content to be more consumable, it must be
shrouded in beauty; it must be made to matter; it must be storified. This is what
has worked for the content on social media.
If I can spend an hour watching compilations of people falling off well-stacked
crates, then, I should be able to spend at least 30 minutes learning the bones
present in the human skeleton. My teacher just has to put in more effort than the
people who stacked crates for the #cratechallenge.
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