Thursday, May 14, 2015

Fishy, Fishy...

If your first response to this posting is, "Hey, Susan.  Goldfish pictures again?"  then I guess I can chalk you up to being one of my friends who is considered to be superior (or, perhaps, distinguished) in your ability to pay attention to detail.    
It certainly seems that a lot of attention is given to the lowly goldfish, and most of it is, quite frankly, pretty uncelebrated.  Heck, as far as I know, PETA has never taken up the cause of the poor species that repeatedly gets bonked on the head by ping pong balls at carnivals and school fairs all over the country.  They're cheap, their easy, and often are purchased to feed to something prettier or flashier in a tank.  (And let's not even talk about what they did in the frat houses -- GULP!)

Nine Seconds.

Today's revelation that the attention span of the average goldfish is nine seconds is not the surprising part.  Really, go ahead and concentrate on something, for nine full seconds.  Look into the eyes of someone, stare at your own hand, whatever.  Feel the length of nine seconds.

And then read the study that suggests that the average human's attention span has dropped from twelve seconds (in the year 2000), to eight.  Yes, EIGHT seconds.  It's interesting to note that humans writing about this phenomenon include the folks at Newser, with a subtag line that claims "read less, know more."

Arguments from various online sources indicate that we humans are better at multi-tasking these days, (which is contradicted by the folks at PBS contradict in their "Dangers of the Internet" Frontline special).  But Newser also reports that more Americans are working on the weekends to complete their work not finished during the week, allegedly because of their inability to concentrate at work due to distractions, including social media.

So what does all of this have to do with education?

The formula for educators used to be that chunks of information should be delivered to students in a formula that roughly correlated to one minute per year of life.  So first graders required no more than six minutes of instruction before requiring some sort of alternative task -- either a response, or a movement of some sort -- and the average senior's focus time was roughly 18 minutes.

And now we are told that nine seconds is potentially too long.

Arsenio Hall used to call these sorts of reports "Things that make you go hmmmmm."  Honestly, I am actually having to HUM, extensively, to rationalize this.

Good thing, though, that I'll apparently lose interest in roughly eight secon...............