ON ATTENTION – ELVIRA SOUZA LIMA

Schools ofcials and teachers report that lack of concentration has become a major problem within the classroom. Lack of concentration is a problem for schools and a challenge for educators in general. Without concentration it is impossible for information to reach the senses in order to be apprehended by the nervous system and be properly dealt with by the brain’s executive functions. As a consequence, new memories are not formed, and previous memories are also affected and are prevented from consolidation and transformation as new knowledge integrated into the brain‘s processes.

The new generations are, to a large extent, more dispersed in specic ways. Of course, we have to be careful with generalizations, since the contexts of development are very diverse in time and directly inuence the formation of attention behaviors. Children who grow up in contexts in which the presence of nature is important tend to form more frequent and more solid attention behaviors. Children who play a lot with other children, and play the common games of childhood culture form neural structures favorable to attention behaviors that are necessary in school.

It is important to emphasize that attention has to be educated and that performing certain types of activities naturally lead to the formation of sustained attention behaviors. As attention is not merely a biological process, cultural practices are fundamental for children to have autonomy in expressing and controlling their attention. Distraction is mainly due to the profusion of elements in contemporary society that are present in the life of the baby from the beginning, also to the little importance given to the free play of children, to the reduction of traditional cultural activities, and to excessive interaction with technological devices.

Depending on social class, emphasis is placed on the pursuit of cognitive development by subjecting children excessively to many time-consuming activities instead of dedicating themselves to properly live their childhood. The brain is an organ in which chemicals ow constantly, the excess of which can have important consequences. On the other hand, from the uterine life to the 20s, the brain goes through a long process of maturation in which time is an important factor. It is important that the time factor in life and in brain processes be properly understood and respected in order to allow learning to happen in school as well as in everyday life.

Hyperstimulation prevents the normal development of the brain and causes other consequences such as anxiety, sense saturation, irritability and other emotional reactions. Time to pause, time for breaks, are important at any age, but in childhood they are primordial. How can school help the child to become more attentive and to focus more in the classroom? The rst observation is that being attentive and maintaining focus are not behaviors that are constituted separated from specic contexts of knowledge and actions and processes of knowledge.

Behaviors of attention in school must be addressed in the curriculum. That is, the curriculum, when conceived and organized, should take into account the education of attention, from kindergarten to high school. I examine this topic in my coming book The imperative need to educate attention, in which I discuss the important role of making choices in curriculum organization and in teaching so that, opportunities are given to students, while learning content, to educate their attention. For example, including research activities, note taking and communication in the process of learning content leads, when well conducted by teachers, to the formation of long term memories. On the other hand, the arts are particularly fundamental curricular components for attention education.

Drawing and music, because of the impact these activities have on students’ identity and emotions, are paramount. What can parents do to at home to improve the attention and focus of their children? Factors such as feeding, sleep, regulation of time dedicated to the use of technologies (TV, computer, tablet, cell phones) and to the modalities of use (social networks, games, exploratory navigation) are factors in which the family plays a fundamental role. To reduce the time of exposure to screens and of manipulation of technological devices is the responsibility of families.

Listening to music, notably instrumental music, at times within the family routine, to tell stories, to read stories aloud and together, to read books for children from very early 12/07/2019 On Attention – Elvira Souza Lima https://mindbrainculture.blogspot.com/2019/07/on-attention-elvira-souza-lima.html 3/6 , are activities that contribute to form stable reading behaviors with great impact on the future basic education student Studying music is probably one of the most effective actions for the formation of attention behaviors: from singing to playing a musical instrument, the developmental impact is very great as demonstrated by the large amount of research in the area of brain and music.

Not tampering with electronic equipment up to 2 hours before bedtime is a deciding factor for sleep quality, which directly interferes with the capabilities of attention the next day. To conclude: the main factor here is to understand that the attention of children and young people results from the cultural context of development and education that adults provide from an early age. The problem, in general, is not that the child or young person is “naturally” inattentive. Generally, except for specic biological conditions, everyone can learn the basic behaviors of attention, but that depends on specic actions by adult educators, at school and at home. Attention is not a matter of “negotiations” in the classroom or at home: attention is formed through concrete actions and experiences

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