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Reply to "Article: In Defense of Doo-dads and Clucking Chickens (and other teaching methods Jesus wouldn't recognize)"

Interesting research about how we pay attention 

In summary: Boring and hands-off = attention deficit


"In his recent book, Spark, John Ratey, M.D., shows that physical activity increases levels of the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine in the way ADHD medications do. Both chemicals play a key role in sharpening focus and increasing attention.


Sydney Zentall, Ph.D., of Purdue University, studied the factors that help ADHD children succeed in the classroom. In ADHD and Education, she notes that attention “deficit” increases with the length, familiarity, and repetitiveness of a task.In other words, you tune out when tasks get boring.


According to Zentall, an activity that uses a sense other than that required for the primary task can enhance performance in children with ADHDDoing two things at once, she found, focuses the brain on the primary task."



Educators care about the research because student attention is essential to learning and remembering.


Helping all our students pay attention is one of the reasons why Rotation Sunday Schools are organized into active workshops, -to engage our volunteer students. Unlike public schools, we don't have the luxury of leveraging their attention by giving out grades and scores. Focus is also why we rotate each week, but stay on the same story for four to five weeks at a time. 


In the same way that Alzheimer's research has expanded our understanding of memory formation, and advanced brain imaging has illuminated our understanding of our multiple-intelligences,  ADHD research is expanding our understanding of how the brain pays attention, -and is thus, giving us clues about better teaching techniques.


For some, attention deficit is clinical and challenging, and I wouldn't pretend to address their needs here. But research into that problem continues to confirm the wisdom of interactive, hands-on teaching techniques, which include the use of "doo-dads" and different types of media.


  • When students see it, hear it, hold it, touch it, smell it, taste it, move it, and be moved by it, they are tapping into their attention tools. 
  • When you put them in folding chairs and tell them to sit still and listen while you talk, you are working against the way God has wired them.



Perhaps we need to turn "doo-dad" into a verb, as in, that lesson point needs "doo-dadded."

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