Kyle taps his foot impatiently as he waits for his mother and teacher to finish chatting in the classroom. He knows he is in trouble again, but he’s not sure why. He looks around the hallway, an all too familiar scene. He spends a lot of time in this hallway, away from his classmates and the many distractions that engage him. School is boring. He struggles with math and reading. The materials don’t always make sense to him, so he finds himself mostly guessing at the answers. He knows his teacher likes him and he likes her, but he still feels like a failure. At home it’s a different story. Kyle reads, types and calculates with ease when playing Runescape, his favorite computer game. Now, that world makes sense to him! He understands the strategies and goals of the game. He is able to compete in quests, chat with peers using acronyms and abbreviations (a computerized short-hand) while simultaneously strategizing new ways to increase his wealth. Naturally intuitive and quick to anticipate, Kyle is successful in a virtual world where he competes with kids who are much older than he. If only real life were so simple!
Kyle is capable of learning, he just learns differently than the generations that preceded him. His ability to focus for long periods of time and remain engaged in an on-line environment, proves that an “attention deficit” is not really the problem. Kyle’s brain is wired in a way that requires the stimulation of a fast-paced, multidimensional environment where multi-tasking is the norm. When his brain is busy and engaged, distractions are no longer an issue. In fact, his powers of concentration are so intense that the rest of the world ceases to exist when he is immersed in the virtual world of Runescape. It is time to bring fast-paced, multidimensional, multi-tasking, hands-on tools into the classroom. Many of our children can no longer learn in the quiet, overly populated classrooms where reading, memorization and testing are the benchmarks of a good teacher. Instead, classrooms need to be technologically advanced laboratories teeming with activities. Only then will Kyle’s confidence and enthusiasm for learning return.