Brain Rule 4: We don’t pay attention to boring things and we cannot multi-task

In John Medina’s book Brain Rules (click here for my summary and other links), his fourth rule provides plenty of research to show that we do not truly multitask when it comes to things that require thinking. Operating cell phones (both talking and texting) while driving, for example, impacts our ability to do so safely. Yet TIME magazine and others have labeled this current group of teens the ‘multitasking generation’. And the 2010 Kaiser Family Foundation study shows things aren’t slowing down.

Rather than demonizing multitasking and avoiding it altogether, we need to teach our kids how to manage technology so that technology truly is a productive tool. In my school’s mission and values statement, Responsibility is a value that is highlighted. Ultimately, we need to teach our kids how to use technology responsibly. Before we do that, we need to start with ourselves. For some, that means avoiding it altogether. And that’s ok. However, the world I live in demands me to learn how to control it. There is no right or wrong answer, but I think there are plenty of tools out there to help us manage these distractions. There are also a lot of useful websites and articles related to this topic. To me, it’s really about setting boundaries and those boundaries will be defined differently for different people. Although I hope we can all agree that a cell phone doesn’t belong in ones hands while driving. Furthermore, there are a myriad of parental controls in all the devices we use. We need to learn how to use them.

Sometimes simple things have worked for me like turning off email notifications on my computer screen or phone. 9 times out of 10 it isn’t something that needs to be responded to immediately or at all. Still, there’s a lot of learning to do.

Today, our faculty played a little How Much Do You Know About St. Patrick’s Day? quiz game. It was fun and interesting to see whose Irish cultural literacy (questions ranged from knowing the capital of Ireland to which 4 states in the US had towns named Shamrock) was tops. Kids today know that the answer to questions like that can be found in minutes by using a device most carry around in their pocket. Teaching kids to recognizing the context of the activity and the importance of face to face interactions is our responsibility. I do see the irony with regard to blogging, but this spares me having to talk at a meeting if only 2 people are interested in hearing what I have to say. I’m doing this because I want to and those who bother to read it do so because they want to as well.

Getting back to the Irish Pop Quiz: I was a little miffed at myself with one of the questions. I could only name 2 of the 4 members of U2. But hey, I can name 10 of their songs without the use of the internet and here is one of my favorites.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s