Letter to the Editor: Teacher agrees with student's short attention span

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Posted Thursday, October 30, 2003 - 12:00am

As a first year teacher (a 40-year-old-first-year high school teacher), I am amazed at the short attention spans of my students.   I remember sitting through an entire class, not roaming around like lost cattle whenever I couldn't concentrate.   I think children today are overmedicated and underdisciplined, and trained to think in sound bites.   They are unable to grasp salient points of the material (I teach chemistry), and basically want me to give them the answers, not search on their own.   When we were reading solubility curves (which basically involves interpreting  a graph), they were completely confused, except for a few students which I then delegated to help the others.

I remember thinking, by the time that I was 16 or so, I was involved in the preparation of my future.   The students today don't seem to have any idea that the future is out there, and they will encounter it.   Perhaps that, again, is the effect of a short attention span.   No consequences to actions, and instant gratification-that's the ticket!

The Asian parents that I know hold their children to a higher standard of accountability;   the Asians of my acquaintance are first or second generation Americans with a clear memory of what they left and why.   They are determined that their children succeed, and provide them with the necessary structure for them to do so.   Several Asian children are in my classes, and the expressions on their faces when their American counterparts just "don't get it."   It's an eye opener.

I enjoyed your article, and agree with it.   I remember when MTV first debuted, incidentally;   it was much better, and merely a diversion, not a mass marketing tool used to brainwash teenagers with too much disposable income and not enough basic character.

Thanks for the article ...

--A. Meier

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