Professor Karin Mika’s article, “Angst, Technology, and Innovation in the Classroom: Improving Focus for Students Growing Up in a Digital Age,” was published in the Oregon Law Review Online (92 Or. L. Rev. Online 19).
The article discusses how all of us are over-extended, partially as the result of the technology in our lives (everything coming at as quickly and all at once), and partially because all of our lives are more complicated than ever (taking care of parents, taking care of kids, trying to do more at our jobs, more bureaucracy to get even the simplest of tasks done….). The article suggests that our students’ lives are even more harried and angst ridden because they grew up with a flurry of activity and the technology that makes one available at every moment, and further that they’ve lived in pressured environments because of the economy as well as the competitive environments of schools that pushed proficiency testing and college placement.
Thus, the article suggests that we (as teachers) just can’t bemoan the fact that our students can’t pay attention or are distracted. We need to understand that this is the new normal and do something about it. Without any scientific support, the article also suggests that because some law professors grew up in a time when life wasn’t so hectic, such professors were able to hone concentration skills to be able to prioritize what they were focusing on and thus really can sit still for an hour listening to a lecture. Unfortunately, none of our students ever had that luxury and we need to recognize that some of the concentration issues are not their fault.