In his compelling blog post titled “The 21st Century Skills Students Really Lack” Daniel Willingham, cognitive scientist who focuses on the brain basis of learning and memory, writes:
If we are concerned that students today are too quick to allow their attention to be yanked to the brightest object (or to willfully redirect it once their very low threshold of boredom is surpassed), we need to consider ways that we can bring home to them the potential reward of sustained attention.
Willingham argues that attention disorders may not be on the rise, rather…the need for and valuation of sustained attention in our culture may be on a dramatic decline. As digital natives (a term coined by Marc Prensky) – students can largely avoid the experience of even mild boredom in their daily lives…but also miss out on some of the rewards of patience, perseverance, and waiting it out.
How do we, instead of trying to wrest attention from the disengaged, inspire it through a little healthy boredom that has powerful rewards?
Definitely – in the age of twitter I have experienced my attention span declining, and find it more difficult to engage in longer, more detailed reads.