Leisa Morton-Standish, PhD

Director of Elementary Education

ducators have the great challenge of preparing our children to compete in a swiftly changing global economy. The ability to be flexible and agile in their future professional life and quickly learn new skills is essential. Teachers are also faced with increasing challenges in engaging digital native learners in the classroom.

In our rapidly evolving Fourth Industrial Revolution, our students’ attention spans have changed. According to a Microsoft study,2 the average child’s attention span has decreased from 12 to 8 seconds. The ability to constantly connect with devices has an alarming effect on our brains and brain activity. Monitor yourself as an adult; if you are waiting in the grocery line, to be seated at a restaurant, or even walking the dog, do you pull out your phone? What about our children who have been born into the digital world we now inhabit?

When content is highly engaging, the younger generation has the potential to pay attention for more extended periods than past generations. However, when that content does not engage them, they quickly tune out the speaker or, teacher in an educational setting. To keep the attention of our digital natives, the content presented to them must have excellent visuals and dialogue along with an interesting or exciting storyline that will hold their attention.

This change in attention trends also greatly impacts how instructors adjust their classes and keep students engaged with the material. Teachers need to find ways to design courses that will catch their students’ attention and adapt the delivery method and pace.

Our students want to be challenged, and they value interaction. Teachers who learn how to engage with these students, they can present rewarding opportunities for classroom growth.

As we consider creating captivating classrooms that engage our learners, there are many models of effective teaching. We want to encourage you to view “The New Art and Science of Teaching” training available on the Adventist Learning Community. This highlights engagement strategies by dynamic presenter Dr. Tina Boogren. There are also a series of trainings for our system-wide move to Standards-based Learning, which empowers teachers to create mastery-based, student-centered learning environments  (https://www.adventistlearningcommunity.com/courses/a-teachers-guide-to-standards-based-learning-and-grading).

Teachers, we need to practice what we preach. We need to become the dynamic, flexible, and agile professionals we teach our students to be in our classrooms. Education needs to move out of the 19th century and flex to meet the world’s needs. Let’s meet the challenge, make the change, and collaborate to make a difference.


1 World Economic Forum. (January 26, 2018). The future of education, according to experts at Davos https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2018/01/top-quotes-from-davos-on-the-future-of-education/


2 Kevin McSpadden. (May 14, 2015). You Now Have a Shorter Attention Span Than a Goldfish. https://time.com/3858309/attention-spans-goldfish/

“Education. It’s a good big challenge now. If we do not change the way we teach, 30 years later will be trouble because the way we teach, the thing we teach our kids are the things past of the past 200 years. It’s knowledge based. And we cannot teach our kids to compete with machine. They are smarter. We have to teach something unique. That is machine cannot catch up with us.” (Jack Ma, 2018).1


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