The True Cause of Distraction

@MrBrettClark 2 Comments

Here recently I've had the opportunity to spend several days at a couple of conferences. One day, I overheard the following conversation centered around a school that is about to go 1:1 in their high school.

Person 1: What all is going to be blocked on these devices? Because, students are going to be easily distracted. They're going to be all kind of things to distract them and nothing will get done. I'm really concerned about it.

Person 2: I have the same concerns. Don't worry, I'm sure they'll be plenty of blocks to help keep students from being distracted. 

Now this conversation is nothing new. I've heard this conversation time and time again from a variety of educators. The only problem is, person 1 is not an educator, he was a student. I stood off to the side and it kind of caught me off guard. I'm sure it's not the first student who has expressed his or her concern of what will happen when students gain access through a 1:1 device. In fact, if I think about it long enough, I can probably think of other instances where I've heard other students say the same thing. 

However, this time was different because I believe I actually get what the student was actually trying to say.

Again, here is what the student said, "What all is going to be blocked on these devices? Because, students are going to be easily distracted. They're going to be all kind of things to distract them and nothing will get done. I'm really concerned about it."

Here is what I believe the student was actually saying, "I was distracted enough before a device was placed in my hands. I mean, students are distracted by pencil, paper, and cell phones. How much more will they be distracted by a device? You're class was boring before and I'm really concerned about it."

Now that's not the only thing he could have been saying. Maybe he was saying, "I want to be engaged in my learning. I want to be involved and do something that is worthwhile to me and my community. The fact is, if my school doesn't provide that, then other students and myself will look elsewhere."

The point is, when students are not engaged, we have to look at the factors of that are contributing to their lack of engagement. When teachers ask me for classroom management tips. I always tell them that a teacher's two best friends in regards to classroom management are engaging lessons and mobility. If a teacher provides an active and engaging classroom centered around the needs of their students, then the majority of issues of around engagement will take care of themselves.

It's time to admit that when educators, parents, and/or students are expressing concern over devices becoming a distracting, they are admitting that school is not engaging or meaningful. That's the true cause of distraction.

Agree? Disagree? 

2 comments:

  1. Nice post, Brett. 'Distraction' has always been a trigger word for me. I also think it is a giveaway about the instruction taking place. If the device can distract students AWAY FROM instruction, that likely means it isn't a useful PART OF instruction. Always reminds me of the teacher in our first year of 1:1 who actually wrote: "I'm up here lecturing at my overhead and no one is paying attention!"

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  2. Passing notes, whispering and giggling are all distractions, too.

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