How much is “attention” worth to you?

August 18, 2014 — Leave a comment

(our intern, Katya, writes on one of the most-undervalued resources there is)

“Paying attention” is a fascinating turn of phrase, and a relevant one, because attention, like every other currency, is one we have a limited supply of. And, as anyone who has been swindled abroad will tell you, it’s very easy to demand more than can be given when you don’t have a concrete measure for it.

A mentor of mine often likes to illustrate students’ attention span like the waves of a roller-coaster (or economic cycles, if you prefer) – there are peaks and troughs, and the educator has to be aware of how these tend to come about, and build their lesson plans accordingly, to maximise on both periods of high and low attention.

I bring this up because, with the demanding national curriculums (recommended, if not strongly encouraged), there is no doubt in my mind that claims on students’ time will become bigger and bigger. It might even become tempting to act as if their attention span is one big plateau, rather than a natural, if dynamic, series of peaks and troughs.

It’s important to remember that play is as, if not more, important to success, as hard study and a strong working ethic. After all, to quote Tony Schwartz from “Manage Your Day-to-Day”, using up energy without a break “is the equivalent of withdrawing funds from a bank account without ever making a deposit. At some point, you go bankrupt.”

As we set out to prepare our lesson plans for this year, let’s keep in mind that our students’ attention is a finite resource – used correctly, it can yield amazing returns, but the way it is used depends on us. Let’s not waste it.

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