Why don't students pay attention in class?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by adeeb, May 9, 2015.

  1. adeeb

    adeeb Rookie

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2014
    Messages:
    77
    Likes Received:
    2

    May 9, 2015

    Hi all,

    I'm doing some work around student attention and engagement in class, and I was wondering if you had any insight on why students don't (or don't want to) pay attention in class. What are the reasons for this behavior? And how does the lack of attention/engagement affect student learning?

    This is related to Jerseygirlteach's recent post, but I'm curious to know the cause of the issue more so than how to address it.

    Any first-hand experiences you can provide would also be greatly appreciated.
     
  2.  
  3. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2010
    Messages:
    4,959
    Likes Received:
    1,148

    May 9, 2015

    There can be hundreds of reasons. Here are some:

    - lesson / material / content / subject is too low and the student is bored (I had a student whose strength was in English and she was a huge problem in my class. She was comfortable, she knew that even if she gets kicked out / suspended from my class, she can easily catch up; in math she was good because she was struggling
    - lesson / material / subject / content is too high, student doesn't even try.
    - student resents the subject / teacher
    - has more interest in friends and socializing
    - has no interest in education, goes to school to eat and socialize or because parents make him
    - has other issues, small problems that happened, or bigger issues such as homelessness, hunger, parents ill or dying, etc.
    - sees no value in the lesson and its relation to life
    - too many things going on in the classroom and gets distracted (lack of classroom management)
    - ADD / ADHD, diagnosed or undiagnosed
    - wants to show off in front of other students by being the class clown, or being defiant, pushing authorities, etc.

    Some things the teacher may be able to tackle, some things are just bigger issues.
     
  4. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2007
    Messages:
    2,483
    Likes Received:
    204

    May 9, 2015

    All that plus most everything taught in school is just plain boring to kids. If that were not the case, kids would naturally go out and learn the information on their own and our services would not be needed.

    Our profession exists because somebody realized that young people needed to learn things that they had no interest in learning at particular age, but would need to know when they reached adulthood.

    The best idea that anybody could come up with was for communities to hire someone to make the kids sit and learn all this stuff they didn't want to learn.

    Over time, methods were developed that were deemed "successful" at getting kids to learn all this incredibly boring, yet incredibly useful information. These methods included forcing the kids to sit and attend to instruction under threat of bodily harm. Giving them a test after the instruction, under the threat of bodily harm if they failed the test.

    Eventually, the threat of bodily harm was replaced by something called a "grade" which would eventually be shown to the student's parents in the form of a "report card." This left the choice of whether or not to impose bodily harm up to the parents, which was probably a good thing in the long run.

    Over time, it was discovered that many parents were not that good at imposing whatever invective was needed to motivate students to listen to the teacher and learn all of that completely boring yet completely useful information. Many students, when questioned, would claim that they didn't really care if they did not learn any of the useful information because their parents apparently did not do anything to them when got bad grades on their report cards.

    More research was needed. So universities began to study how to get kids to learn when they didn't care what their grades were. Several methods were developed. Among those were tricking the students into learning the information by assigning them a "project," making it so learning the otherwise boring information was a "game" that was "fun" and my personal favorite, setting the entire curriculum to rap music.

    As of this time, none of these things have worked.
     
  5. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2001
    Messages:
    24,958
    Likes Received:
    2,112

    May 9, 2015

    none? Really? So why do you do what you do? Personally, I'm jazzed by the daily discoveries, a ha moments, breakthroughs in understanding that I can faciliate in my kiddos...
     
  6. otterpop

    otterpop Phenom

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2013
    Messages:
    4,161
    Likes Received:
    1,763

    May 9, 2015

    This is good. :haha:

    I think that there should be some options for kids who just detest sitting in a classroom. They don't get much out of being there, and they often make learning more difficult for other children. I'd like to see more hands-on or alternative programs for kids who just don't care whether they learn a thing. If the child doesn't care, and the parent doesn't care, why should teachers be charged with ramming information into these children's minds? I'm all up for trying, and I enjoy getting to inspire students. That's why I am a teacher. But I disagree with a one-size-fits-all education system.

    Apprentice programs and career training programs would be a smart addition to our educational system, IMO.
     
  7. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2010
    Messages:
    3,638
    Likes Received:
    1,936

    May 9, 2015

    My observations are purely my observations. I've a few kids that seem to be just very social. They seem to just prefer to deal with social stuff. A few other kids have home life problems that distract them. Some seem to be set for high - interest activities as in the song - and - dance and technology. Some just don't yet have skills for giving attention. Some don't match the level taught.

    One kid I currently have suffers from the belief she's way smart. She did very well in kinder and first, her parents labeled her brilliant, she no longer gives real effort and is presently below average in my class. Her parents struggle with this news.
     
  8. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2014
    Messages:
    11,279
    Likes Received:
    2,807

    May 9, 2015

    My observation is that this question refers to students of all ages, including those who are adults. I have watched colleagues checking email, working on lesson plans, texting, reading books, grading papers, and doing a lot of talking during classes where there is supposed to be learning going on. Don't make the assumption that only kids fail to pay attention during classes where learning is supposed to be taking place.
     
  9. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2011
    Messages:
    5,770
    Likes Received:
    1,003

    May 9, 2015

    Agree with all that's been said. My personal observations from recently (around this time period, right before summer, is a great case study for observing kids not wanting to pay attention) simply show that they have a much greater interest in social happenings and relationships.

    They've been wowed by the science experiments and demos, and they're interested in what we're learning right now (space is always an interest grabber), but they're just way more interested in the girl across the room, or who is fighting who after school, or what so-and-so said. Can't really blame them. This is what is happening right now in their lives and is of importance to them right now.

    Stuff they learn in class will only be useful in the far future, if even at all.

    When looked at in this light, it's no wonder. Kids in Middle School at least don't have a great capability of foresight and planning for the careers they might have in the future, even if the importance of what they're learning has been explained to them. Hormones, apathy, and procrastination are always going to win out. I remember, because it wasn't long that I was in that position even in college.

    Heck even now I let procrastination win out frequently and other things overtake my attention when I know I should be paying attention to other things.

    It's the human condition. I really wish I knew how to be focused and hardworking on things I want to improve on.
     
  10. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2010
    Messages:
    4,330
    Likes Received:
    572

    May 10, 2015

    I blame Sesame Street and all of the other young kid shows that have to change story lines every minute or two. Couple those with hand held games and kids are taught from early on that whatever stimulus they are receiving needs to change rapidly.
     
  11. adeeb

    adeeb Rookie

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2014
    Messages:
    77
    Likes Received:
    2

    May 11, 2015

    Hi everyone,

    Thank you for the very insightful replies! This is a lot of excellent information and is incredibly useful!

    I am also curious about this. I feel as though some of the methods, such as rap music, would work.

    Great points, otterpop. I think having more options would make school more enjoyable for students.

    Just curious, has anyone tried sending out to his students a survey that asks them what activities or exercises they enjoy most? I feel that this could help the teacher better understand what engages his students.
     
  12. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2010
    Messages:
    4,959
    Likes Received:
    1,148

    May 11, 2015

    How would rap music work?
     
  13. adeeb

    adeeb Rookie

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2014
    Messages:
    77
    Likes Received:
    2

    May 11, 2015

    I think it would work because students enjoy rap music across the country. If they can learn while listening to music that they enjoy, it won't feel as if they are learning, and they will be more inclined to pay attention. That's my guess.

    Flocabulary provides educational hip-hop, and it seems to be working pretty well in some places.
     
  14. daisycakes

    daisycakes Companion

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2014
    Messages:
    221
    Likes Received:
    0

    May 11, 2015

    Additionally, some students don't pay attention because they are starving (lunch is at 1:45), because there is too much noise in the building, because the room is without heat in the middle of winter or above 80 in the summer or because the room has too many distracting colors and clutter. Sometimes they are sick but being forced to go to school, came to school after a fight with a parent or have another kind of family issue. Sometimes they don't pay attention because they are used to everything being done for them (overuse of a para, for example) and know that, even if they put no mental effort into learning, help will still be provided to them individually.
     
  15. daisycakes

    daisycakes Companion

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2014
    Messages:
    221
    Likes Received:
    0

    May 11, 2015

    Also, as a music teacher I can tell you rap or other popular music does not always work. Kids think rap is lame when about an educational topic and will generally not participate. I used to teach band and orchestra and got resistance if I picked a Katy perry song or whatever. They felt the contrast between them and pop stars made them look even dorkier. What they actually wanted to play was four seasons, from the diamonds are forever commercial or hoe down from beef, it's what's for dinner...something people would recognize as emblematic of their medium.

    Students like rap therefore students will like learning if it includes rap is a really messed up line of thinking. Sure, do it for fun once in awhile but don't expect it to yield greater results than other tools in your belt.
     
  16. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2010
    Messages:
    4,959
    Likes Received:
    1,148

    May 12, 2015

    I would not play rap music for them. The language is inappropriate for the classroom, as well as the content. And I agree that if rap is made educational, high school students will find it lost its appeal and will think it's lame.
    There are online radio stations that play clean music, or you can choose oldies, (our students love it and they understand that can be the only choice.)
    However, I never play music in my English classes, simply because we're either reading or discussing. During essay writing I would. (the only time I played music was in credit recovery class, students working on the laptops)

    Also playing music would not have them pay more attention in class, it would just fill the silence they have while working. But music does not work when there is interactions, direct instruction, or student centered activities.
     
  17. adeeb

    adeeb Rookie

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2014
    Messages:
    77
    Likes Received:
    2

    May 12, 2015

    Thanks for your input, daisycakes and Linguist92021! I ran under too many assumptions, so I apologize for that. It seems I have much to learn!
     
  18. Reality Check

    Reality Check Habitué

    Joined:
    May 29, 2010
    Messages:
    913
    Likes Received:
    30

    May 12, 2015

    That's an easy one to answer. They don't care and their parents don't care.
    School is considered a social center and babysitting service.
    :confused:
     
  19. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2007
    Messages:
    2,483
    Likes Received:
    204

    May 13, 2015

    My original point about rap music was meant to be a sarcastic dig at the suggestion that teachers do things like teach the Magna Carta or the Protestant Reformation by creating some sort of rap song about it. Ideas like this were popular in the 90's and still popular among teachers who remain stuck in the 90's.

    Kids will remain bored and disconnected as long as we keep teaching in the same linear fashion as we have for the last 500 years. History is decade by decade. Grammar is "Unit 1: Nouns (3 weeks), Unit 2: Verbs (4 weeks)" etc.

    How about teaching history backwards, like a murder mystery? Start with the Holocaust or Hiroshima and reason backwards like an investigation. Kids might actually give a care about the League of Nations or 19th Century imperialism if they knew how everything ended up.

    Grammar might actually be interesting if the parts of speech were taught like the interconnecting system that it actually is.

    And if a middle school teacher is using the same novels that they read when theywere in middle school, then it might be time to look at revising the department reading list.

    We need to look at the general structure of what we teach and how we teach it. Until then, they are not going to pay attention.
     
  20. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

    Joined:
    May 8, 2008
    Messages:
    8,462
    Likes Received:
    1,599

    May 13, 2015

    Rap and other music works sometimes. My students LOVE Flocabulary or Grammarheads videos and tend to remember the lessons. They incorporate visual and audio learning, and they're usually perfect for 9th graders. That being said, I use them for drier lessons such as context clues or capitalization rules, and as a reinforcement tool.
     
  21. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2013
    Messages:
    2,985
    Likes Received:
    435

    May 13, 2015

    I like your example for history.

    Can you please elaborate with some detail with regards to grammar, teaching it like an interconnecting system, and how that will keep students interest?
     
  22. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Aficionado

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2009
    Messages:
    3,426
    Likes Received:
    599

    May 13, 2015

    The most successful way I've ever used rap is an option for students to create their own rap using vocabulary words. They can either perform in class, or make a music video for it. Some of their videos have been really cute!
     
  23. Koriemo

    Koriemo Comrade

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2014
    Messages:
    346
    Likes Received:
    24

    May 13, 2015

    While some lecture style, boring, linear, step by step grammar instruction does make up some of my grammar instruction, these are some things that I've done to help students see the "life" that grammar brings to writing...

    - Show examples of sentences with grammar that drastically changes the meaning ("Let's eat, Grandma!" and "Let's eat Grandma!")

    - Show examples of grammatical errors in signs and publications and ask students to edit them. They like feeling "better" at grammar than someone else.

    - Practice writing sentences with interesting grammatical formats using mentor sentences. Like, how does "Wait! Wait! Don't tell me!" have a different feeling than "Wait... wait... don't tell me..."

    - Show students examples of work without any punctuation marks at all and ask them to insert them. This leads to great questions about sentence structure, complete sentences, etc. and emphasizes how punctuation influences meaning.

    - Class discussions about the relationship between language and thought. Different languages have words for things that English doesn't. How might we perceive "love" differently if we had distinct words for "romantic love", "friendship love", "parental love", "true love", "material love"? Would that change our relationships?

    - Writing a creative story about how a punctuation mark or part of speech came to be that includes the definitions/rules. For example, "Period and Comma had a baby named Semicolon..." This helps them to see how things are connected.
     
  24. vateacher757

    vateacher757 Cohort

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2007
    Messages:
    596
    Likes Received:
    2

    May 13, 2015

    I detest rap music of today it is derogatory, negative, glorifies material things, disrespect and produces nothing positive......rap music of the 80's early 90's were positive and welcoming, jmo.

    I also think it is stereotypical and sends the message that black folks can only relate and understand if something is "rapped" to them, again just my opinion.
     
  25. adeeb

    adeeb Rookie

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2014
    Messages:
    77
    Likes Received:
    2

    May 13, 2015

    Thanks, everyone, for your input! This is a great discussion!

    I love these examples; they help connect students to the material that they are learning and give students a more creative, open way to learn! Thanks for sharing!

    I agree with you on rap music of today, and I don't listen to it at all. I basically only listen to 90's rap because the lyrics actually convey real meaning. Also, I find the rappers back then to be significantly more skilled than rappers today.
     
  26. GTB4GT

    GTB4GT Cohort

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2011
    Messages:
    747
    Likes Received:
    143

    May 13, 2015

    Sarge, I have been reading/lurking/posting here for a few years.For the most part, this a very sober and taciturn group. For the first time that i can recall, I literally sat at my computer laughing as I read your post (or your post was full of lulz as the kids would say). Great work! please post more often.:thumb:
     
  27. vateacher757

    vateacher757 Cohort

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2007
    Messages:
    596
    Likes Received:
    2

    May 13, 2015

    Agreed! The lyrics conveyed a positive uplifting message.
     

Share This Page

Members Online Now

  1. astonmark,
  2. YoungTeacherGuy
Total: 330 (members: 3, guests: 299, robots: 28)
test