Distraction in the Classroom

February 14, 2011

Classroom desks in a row

Copyright 2011 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

The Spring semester has started and, as usual, we completed the “Classroom Culture” activity in both Sociology and Psychology.

This activity involves students providing some basic contact information, college major, and career goals.  In addition, they are asked to specify those activities that they find helpful and find distracting in the classroom.  Year in and year out, cell phone use (calls and/or texting) in the classroom rates quite high as a distraction.  Even though this is openly discussed and students “contract” with each other to not use cell phones during class, there are often times folks need to be reminded of this.

Dr. Edward M. Hallowell and Dr. John Ratey, both of Harvard, have a compelling theory about our desire to stay connected.  The consequences of such connections are also covered in the article.  This is certainly worth a read.

On a societal level, the events that have recently occurred in Tunisia, Egypt, Iraq, and now Yemen and Jordan, provide powerful examples of the role that technology plays as a social force in shaping behaviour.  On the other hand, we have the individual impact of what Drs. Hallowell and Ratey refer to as “pseudo-attention deficit disorder”.

Thus we have two sides of the technology coin.  And, if this is like other addictions, not everyone who uses technology will develop problems.  Time will tell if future editions of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders does recognize “pseudo-attention deficit disorder”.

On a smaller scale, the students have spoken:  cell phone use during class is a distraction.

Take care.