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Princeton University Library Catalog
Distracted : why students can't focus and what you can do about it / James M. Lang.
Lang, James M.
New York, NY : Basic Books, Hachette Book Group, 2020.
xiv, 284 pages ; 25 cm.
Motivation in education
Attention in adolescence
Student participation in curriculum planning
"A decade ago, James Lang banned cell phones in his classroom. Frustrated by how easily they could sidetrack his students, Lang sought out a distraction-free environment, hoping it would help his students pay attention to his lessons. But after just a few years, Lang gave in. Not only was his no-cellphones policy ineffective (even his best students ignored it), he realized that he, like many of his fellow teachers, was missing an important point. The problem isn't phones. It's our antiquated notions of the brain. In Distracted, Lang makes the case for a new way of thinking about how to teach young minds based on the emerging neuroscience of attention. Although we have long prized the ability to focus, the most natural way of thinking is distraction. Our brains are designed to continually scan our environment, looking for new information, occasionally wandering off in different directions in search of new insights. This is not to say that iPhones are not good at distracting us, but that what they represent is in principle nothing new, because sustained periods of intense focus are not what humans are good at. Of course, we still do need to pay attention to learn. The problem is that we think of learning as a matter of managing distraction, when we should instead think of it as actively cultivating attention. This starts with letting go of technology bans, which are little more than a fig leaf applied to the objective difficulty of paying attention. But it involves more active ways of rethinking classroom conventions too. For example, rather than structuring lessons as 45 or 60-minute blocks of lecturing, teachers could segment their classes into a series of smaller lessons, with regular shifts in focus, appealing to the brain's interest in novelty. Simple changes can drastically improve students' performance, and in Distracted, Lang takes readers on a sprawling tour of how some of America's best teachers are improving student performance using concepts such as modular classrooms, flow states, and student-directed learning. Together, these insights offer a new way of thinking about how to not only more effectively teach a lesson plan, but to teach students the most important lesson of all: how to learn"-- Provided by publisher.
A decade ago Lang banned cell phones in his classroom, frustrated by how easily they could sidetrack his students. After just a few years, Lang gave in. Not only was his no-cellphones policy ineffective, he realized that like many of his fellow teachers he was missing an important point: The problem isn't phones. It's our antiquated notions of the brain. Here Lang makes the case for a new way of thinking about how to teach young minds based on the emerging neuroscience of attention. What iPhones represent is in principle nothing new, because sustained periods of intense focus are not what humans are good at. We should instead think of it as actively cultivating attention, and find active ways of rethinking classroom conventions that will teach students how to learn. -- adapted from publisher info
Includes bibliographical references (pages 251-267) and index.
Introduction: From distraction to attention -- Theories of distraction. A brief history of distraction ; Distracted in the classroom ; The tech ban debate -- Practices of attention. Communities of attention ; Curious attention ; Structured attention ; Signature attention activities ; Assessed attention ; Mindful attention -- Conclusion: The classroom as attention retreat.
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