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无法集中注意力的一代人如何专注学习?

How can a distracted generation learn anything?
无法集中注意力的一代人如何专注学习?

Today’s students have a problem, and it’s not the one written on the board. They’re so accustomed to constant stimuli from smartphone apps and streaming platforms that they can’t concentrate in class.

今天的学生面临一个问题,但不是写在课堂黑板上的那种问题。今天的學生已经习惯于智能手机应用和流媒体平台的持续刺激,以至于无法在课堂上集中注意力。

Generations Z (ages 10-24) and Alpha (ages 0-9) were born into a world where algorithms keep them clicking, scrolling and swiping at a frenetic pace.

Z世代(10-24岁)和α世代(0-9岁)出生在这样一个世界:电脑算法让他们只知以狂热的速度在电子设备上点击、滚动和滑动。

Now teachers have a problem too: how do you adapt the traditional curriculum to accommodate students raised by technology and is there a price for compromising on traditional education?

现在当老师的也有一个问题:该如何调整传统课程以教育随信息技术养大的学生?在传统教育上对此妥协是否要付出代价?

Attention, please

请注意


Early brain development is a complex topic, but over the last few years researchers around the world have raised concerns about the impact of smartphones and media multi-tasking on concentration.

儿童早期大脑发育是一个相当复杂的题目。在过去几年里,世界各地的研究人员都在关注智能手机和多媒体并用对青少年注意力的影响。

“There is a growing body of evidence – that is, yes, not fully validated and can be argued against – but pretty clear evidence that technology, social media, immediate access to the internet and smartphones are hurting kids’ ability to focus,” says Dr Jim Taylor, author of Raising Generation Tech. “We are fundamentally changing the way kids think and the way their brains develop.”

《养育技术一代》(Raising Generation Tech)一书的作者泰勒博士(Dr Jim Taylor)说:“证据越来越多,是的,没有完全确认,可以争论,但有明确证据表明,信息技术、社交媒体,以及能随时即刻上网和使用智能手机正在伤害孩子的专注力。我们正在从根本上改变孩子们的思维方式和他们的大脑发育。”

Teachers have noticed too. “It’s a problem! The average teen has the attention span of about 28 seconds to begin with,” says Laura Schad, who teaches seventh and eighth graders (ages 12-14) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She says that while smartphones have clearly affected her students’ developing brains, training on how to tackle the issue is lacking: how education should evolve for digital-native students was not covered when she qualified in 2015.

老师们也注意到了这个问题。在宾夕法尼亚州费城教七、八年级学生(12-14岁)的教师沙德(Laura Schad)说:“这是一个问题!一般的青少年能集中注意力的持续时间本来只有约28秒。”她说,虽然智能手机明显影响了她的学生的大脑发育,但如何解决这个问题却缺乏相应的师资培训。她2015年取得教师资格时,所学的内容并未包括教育应该如何适应这些数字原生代的学生。

Tech’s effects are clearest in the most traditional school task, reading, especially as kids migrate from text-based digital media to image-heavy apps like Instagram and Snapchat.

信息技术的影响在最传统的学校课程中体现得最为明显,那就是阅读,尤其是现在的孩子们已从基于文本的数字媒体转向Instagram和Snapchat等全是图片和视像的社交应用程式。

“Students, now, seem to find it particularly exhausting to read complex or long text without regular breaks. In the past, students seemed to be accustomed to attending to a text for a longer period of time,” says Erica Swift, sixth-grade teacher at Herman Leimbach Elementary in Sacramento, California, not far from Silicon Valley. “You see their lack of stamina in them asking for breaks, talking to others instead of working, and even some just giving up on longer reading tasks.”

“现在,学生们似乎发现,阅读复杂或冗长的文章,中间没有休息,会特别疲惫。过去,学生们似乎习惯于长时间阅读一篇文本,”赫尔曼莱姆巴赫小学(Herman Leimbach Elementary)六年级教师斯威夫特(Erica Swift)说,该小学位于加利福尼亚州的萨克拉门托(Sacramento),距硅谷不远。“你会发现孩子缺乏学习持久力,他们要求多休息,阅读的时候交头接耳,阅读时间一长有些人甚至干脆放弃。”

Transposing the text to a device doesn’t help, indicating the problem runs deeper than preferences for screens over print.

将文本阅读转移到电子设备上并不能帮助解决问题,这也说明问题已经超出了选择电子阅读还是纸质阅读的范畴。

Taylor explains that attention isn’t just a value in itself, but functions as the gateway to higher forms of learning – especially memory – which in turn leads to deeper comprehension. “Without the ability to pay attention to something, kids are not going to be able to process [information]. They’re not going to be able to consolidate it into memory, which means they’re not going to be able to interpret, analyse, synthesise, critique and come to some decision about the information,” he says.

泰勒解释说,注意力不仅有其自身的价值,而且还是通往更高形式学习的大门,尤其是记忆会反过来帮助学生更深入的理解。他说:“如果没有集中注意的能力,孩子们将无法处理信息。他们将无法将信息巩固到记忆中,这意味着他们对信息将无法进行解释、分析、综合、批评并做出某种决定。”

The classroom of the future

未来的课堂


When students can’t seem to pay attention to long lectures, many teachers simply hack lessons into smaller chunks. Gail Desler, the tech integration specialist for Elk Grove school district, where Swift’s school is located, says: “A common thread among teachers is that short is good.”

当学生似乎无法专注于时间长的授课时,许多老师就会把课程分成小块来教授。斯威夫特的学校所在的埃尔克格罗夫(Elk Grove)学区的技术整合专家德斯勒(Gail Desler)表示:“教师们的一个共识是,课程短效果就好。”

Desler also points to teachers who begin classes with mindfulness exercises or deploy meditation when students need to concentrate. One high school teacher in Salinas, California, uses the Calm app to help students meditate, but a 2013 study indicated any sort of “tech breaks” could counteract anxious urges to multitask.

德斯勒还指出,有些老师开始上课时会进行正念练习,或者在学生需要集中注意力时让学生冥想。加州萨利纳斯(Salinas)的一名高中教师使用一款名叫“平静”(Calm)的应用程序来帮助学生冥想,但2013年的一项研究表明,任何形式的“技术休息”都可能抵消一心多用的焦虑冲动。

Some teachers also choose to “meet kids where they are” on platforms like YouTube and Instagram. Asha Choksi, vice-president of global research and insights at educational publisher Pearson, gives the example of a teacher who films himself performing a science experiment, posts it to YouTube and then uses the video in class to illustrate material in the textbook, which can seem boring to students. Similarly, Schad keeps students on task through Instagram, reminding them about homework and upcoming field trips.

一些老师还选择在“孩子们已经使用的平台上和他们见面”,比如YouTube和Instagram。教育出版商培生集团(Pearson)负责全球研究和观察的副总裁乔克西(Asha Choksi)举了一个例子:一位教师将自己做的一项科学实验拍摄下来,将其发布到YouTube上,然后在课堂上用这段视频来演示教材中学生看来可能枯燥的内容。同样,沙德通过Instagram让学生关注学习任务,提醒他们作业和即将到来的田野考察。

These platforms especially extend attention when they reflect students’ interests. Desler praises teachers who do things like tie the history of Nazi propaganda to cyberbullying. “It’s about infusing relevant information into mandated curriculum in ways the students see themselves,” she says. “If you connect it to things happening here and now, then it enters their world and engages them.”

这些平台在反映学生兴趣时尤其可以延伸学生的注意力。比如有一些教师把纳粹宣传历史与网络欺凌联系起来,德斯勒赞许这些老师的做法。她说:“这是以学生看待自己的方式,把相关信息灌输到指定课程中。如果你把课程与此时此地发生的事情联系起来,就会进入他们的世界,吸引他们参与。”

Meanwhile, specialised learning platforms like Flipgrid, which allows students to share videos of themselves giving presentations, help teachers engage students in their native media. A 2018 study from Pearson found that Gen Z students eschewed physical books, preferring video as a source of information second only to teachers. By meeting kids where they already engage and create, teachers can better capture attention.

与此同时,像Flipgrid这样的专业学习平台,容许学生分享自己演讲的视频,并帮助教师吸引学生参与到他们习惯的媒体中。培生集团2018年进行的一项研究发现,Z世代学生不喜欢纸质书,他们更喜欢视频,将视频看作是排在老师之后的第二信息来源。老师在孩子们已经参与并发布内容的平台上与他们见面,可以更好地吸引学生的注意力。

Some school districts have standardised digital migration to platforms like Google Classroom, which allows students and parents to monitor grades and upcoming assignments, tracking performance to better understand where students are falling behind.

一些学区已经将数字化迁移统一到谷歌教室(Google Classroom)这样的平台上。该平台允许学生和家长监控学生的成绩和即将完成的作业,追踪学生的表现,以便更好地了解学生在哪些方面落后于众。

Technology can even help mend the damage it does to reading skills. Schad says at her school in Philadelphia, teachers use computers to target struggling students. The school’s preferred reading platform, Lexia, uses gamification to motivate participation. The programme also automatically splits up students based on performance, moving successful students to more advanced tasks offline while keeping struggling students engaged with digital exercises until they fully internalise the lesson. This targeted approach helps bridge the gap between students impacted to varying degrees by technology.

信息技术甚至可以帮助修复其对学生阅读能力造成的损害。沙德说,她在费城的学校里,老师们用电脑来帮助阅读困难的学生。学校首选的阅读平台Lexia利用游戏方式鼓励学生参与。该程序还会根据学生的表现将其自动分组,让成绩优秀的学生在线下完成较高级的阅读课程,同时让成绩不佳的学生继续进行数字练习,直到他们完全消化课程内容。学生受到信息科技影响的程度不等,这种有针对性的方法有助于缩小他们之间的差距。

The US is a global leader in education technology, with edtech companies raising $1.45bn (£1.1bn) in 2018. But firms like Flipgrid and Lexia will increasingly face competition from abroad. The edtech industry in East Asia is booming, especially as US platforms like Knewton expand overseas, tapping into growing global interest in adapting classrooms to digital native students.

美国的教育科技领先全球,该国的教育科技公司在2018年共筹资14.5亿美元。但Flipgrid和Lexia等公司未来将面临越来越多来自海外的竞争。尤其是随着Knewton之类的美国教育平台向海外扩张,全球对改革传统课堂教育以适应数字原生代学生的兴趣也日益增长,东亚的教育科技产业正在蓬勃发展,以力图赶上这个潮流。
 

把课程变成游戏有助于提高水平较差的学生的表现

‘Blended learning’

“混合式学习”


Still, while some educators are embracing technology in the classroom, multiple studies have shown more traditional classrooms can be more successful. A 2015 study by the London School of Economics showed GCSE test scores improved when schools in Birmingham, London, Leicester and Manchester banned phones from class. Neuroscience professor William Klemm, author of The Learning Skills Cycle, points to a 2014 study that found taking notes in longhand helped students retain information better than using a laptop.

然而,尽管一些教育工作者在课堂上拥抱新科技,多项研究表明,更传统的课堂教学方法可能更有成效。2015年伦敦经济学院(London School of Economics)的一项研究表明,伯明翰、伦敦、莱斯特和曼彻斯特的学校禁止学生上课时使用手机,这些地区学生的普通中等教育证书(GCSE)考试成绩因而有所提高。《学习技能周期》(The Learning Skills Cycle)一书的作者、神经科学教授克莱姆(William Klemm)指出,2014年的一项研究发现,和用笔记本电脑记笔记相比,手写笔记更有助于学生记住信息。

Klemm also points out the dangers of chopping up lessons into small chunks, suggesting switching between small lessons too quickly could rob students of valuable comprehension. He says students need time to engage with a topic once the teacher introduces it before moving on.

克莱姆还指出了将课程分割成小块的危险,他认为在小块课程之间切换太快可能会剥夺学生宝贵的理解能力。他说,老师介绍了一个知识题目,学生们需要充足时间理解,然后才能进入下一个题目。

Even many tech-forward educators find value in traditional methods and suggest a “blended learning” approach. “I've seen a lot of discussion among academics in recent years about whether the lecture format is a relic and should go the way of the dinosaurs,” says Katie Davis, associate professor in the University of Washington Information School. “I guess it comes down to whether you believe there are valuable skills involved in following a complex argument that is presented linearly in real-time.”

甚至许多支持新科技的教育工作者也发现了传统教学的价值,并建议采用“混合式学习”的方法。华盛顿大学教育学院(University of Washington College of Education)的兼职副教授及该大学数字青年实验室(UW Digital Youth Lab)创始成员戴维斯(Katie Davis)说:“我看到近年来学术界有很多讨论,是关于传统讲课的形式是否已是老古董,应该像恐龙一样灭绝。我猜这取决于你是否相信,参与一场实时的线性的复杂讨论可以获得有价值的技能。"

While Davis admits new media could provide valuable skills, she still believes lectures have their place.

虽然戴维斯承认新媒体可以提供有价值的技能,但她仍然相信实况讲课有其一席之地。

Educators across the tech spectrum agree the teacher’s authority remains sacrosanct. Elizabeth Hoover, chief technology officer of public schools in Alexandria City, Virginia, works to enhance education in her district through technology, but she says she would never replace direct instruction from teachers.

新科技领域的教育工作者都认同教师的权威仍然是神圣不可侵犯的。弗吉尼亚州亚历山大市公立学校的首席技术官胡佛(Elizabeth Hoover)致力于通过信息科技提高她所在地区的教育水平,但她表示,她永远不会用信息科技取代教师的直接教学。

“The face-to-face interaction with the teacher is still the most important component in the classroom,” she says, favouring technology only when it enhances a lesson in ways impossible offline.

她说:”与老师面对面的互动仍是课堂最重要的组成部分。“她认为只有新科技可以起到课堂教学起不到的作用时,她才支持使用。

Schad also points out that many teachers rely on technology only because they don’t have sufficient resources offline. Programmes like Lexia wouldn’t be necessary if schools provided more funding for aides, who could free up teachers to concentrate on struggling students.

沙德也指出,许多教师依赖科技只是因为他们没有足够的线下资源。如果学校提供更多的资金聘请助教,像Lexia这样的程序就没有必要了。助教们可以解放教师,把精力集中在学习困难的学生身上。

Philadelphia teacher Sophia Date, who teaches 12th grade social studies, also questions the impulse to fund tech over more teachers. “There is a huge push for technology in the classroom, but at times I think that it is done in the place of larger, more necessary reforms. Grant organisations are happy to give money for a set of tablets or laptops, but not willing to provide a salary for a teacher for a year,” she says.

在学校教授12年级社会研究课程的费城教师戴特(Sophia Date)也对花钱资助科技而非聘请更多教师的趋势提出了质疑。她说:“在课堂上对技术的推动是巨大的,但有时我认为钱应该用在更大范围、更必要的改革上。现在资助机构乐于出钱购买一套平板电脑或笔记本电脑,却不愿为一名教师提供一年的薪水。”

Date clarifies that equitable access to technology remains crucial to help close the gap for low-income students, but it cannot replace systemic change.

戴特表明,让学生都能接触信息技术对帮助低收入学生缩小差距仍然至关重要,但这不能取代系统性的变革。

Learn to think

学会思考


While technology undermines some aspects of education, it has also empowered students in unforeseen ways. “There is this view that young people are a bit apathetic, a little bit lazy, distracted by technology,” says Choksi of Pearson. “We actually really underestimate the role technology is playing in children’s education right now and the power it gives them over the way they learn.”

虽然信息技术损害了教育的某些方面,但也以不可预见的方式赋予了学生一些新的能力。培生集团的乔克西说:“有一种观点认为,年轻人有点冷漠,有点懒惰,被信息技术分散了注意力。事实上,我们真的低估了科技目前在儿童教育中发挥的作用,低估了科技赋予他们的能力,这种能力影响着他们的学习方式。”

For instance, students impatient for educators to address questions are increasingly willing to seek answers for themselves. “They might be in algebra and go to YouTube to figure out how to solve a problem before going to a teacher or consulting a textbook,” Choksi says.

例如,那些等不及老师提出问题的学生越来越愿意自己上网去寻找答案。乔克西说:“他们可能在学代数,还未上课听老师讲解或查阅教科书,已先去YouTube找寻解决问题的方法。”

“That’s what you ultimately want with kids,” Swift adds. “You want them asking new questions, seeking new answers.”

斯威夫特补充说:“这才是你对孩子最终的期望。你希望他们提出新的问题,寻求新的答案。”

Taylor points out that as information becomes ubiquitous, success is no longer about knowing the most. Instead, it’s the ability to think critically and creatively, ironically the very skills that digital media undermines by lowering attention spans.

泰勒指出,现在信息在网上无处不在,唾手可得,成功不再意味着要博闻强记,取而代之的是批判性和创造性思考的能力。具有讽刺意味的是,数字媒体缩短了青少年专注力的持续时间,从而也就削弱了这些能力。

“If you think of the Zuckerbergs and the Gates and the Sandbergs and all these people who became successful in the tech world,” he says, “it wasn’t because they could code; it was because they could think.”

他说:“如果你想想扎克伯格、盖茨、桑德伯格以及所有那些在科技界取得成功的人,就会知道,他们的成功并不是因为他们会编写程式,而是因为他们会思考。”

Digital natives will continue to voraciously adopt new media. Teachers have no choice but to evolve, not only to ensure students can access and take advantage of new technologies, but to fundamentally educate students to succeed in a world constantly trying to distract them.

数字原生代将继续贪婪地接受新媒体。教师别无选择,只能与时代一起进步,不仅要确保学生能够接触和利用新技术,而且要从根本上教育学生,在一个试图不断分散他们注意力的世界中如何取得成功。
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