"Pay Attention" But Not Only Because I Tell You So


Submitted a year ago
Created by
Brad Choyt
I'm fortunate to have visited many schools throughout my career, both in the US and abroad. And as I've walked the hallways and sat in on classes, one of the most common phrases I've heard from teachers is "Pay attention to what I'm about to say. . ." As a former teacher and as a parent, I understand why this request is made so often. But just how effective is it to ask students to focus on the task at hand when they may not know how?  

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Most schools are not very good at instructing students on methods to focus their attention, despite our many requests for them to do so. And with a culture that is so full of stimulation from the media and a growing need for online connection, the goal of paying attention is increasingly difficult for the students we serve. 

This could be one of the reasons that places like hospitals, businesses, professional sport organizations, and even prisons are teaching mindfulness techniques that help people maintain their focus. Many of these programs are proving to be successful, and the approaches they utilize are starting to catch on in other organizations.

It's time for schools to develop mindfulness programs that can address this goal for the populations we serve. Aside from the increased ability to focus on the task at hand, there are many reasons to develop these programs: mindfulness programs have also been effective at improving mood disorders, depression, and eating disorders.  

Of course, studies on mindfulness curricula will need to continue. But given the initial success these techniques demonstrate, it's time we made this part of our students' experience in schools.   

Note: Crossroads Academy initiated a mindfulness curriculum in the 2015-16 school year. We will be expanding this program in the coming school year through a collaboration with the organization Creative Lives.  

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