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The Attention Economy and Our Collective Responsibility

Session 2
Chris Lehmann — Science Leadership Academy

Our phones, our laptops, our watches have become more and more sophisticated about how they demand our attention, and many adults (myself included) struggle to manage how we allocate our focus. For students, this problem is often even more acute.

As a result, the 2022-23 school year has seen a return of the "Cell Phone Ban" wars as schools struggle to help kids regain their in-class focus, post-Zoom school. Districts are buying Yondr pouches, students are posting TikTok videos on how to subvert cell phone bans, and teachers and administrators are often caught in the middle.

But - what if we considered that learning how to manage our attention was a fundamental part of being a fully engaged citizen of our world?

Can we develop ways to teach kids to value their attention? Can schools be the place where students learn to understand the attention economy and to understand their role with in it?

Let's spend 90 minutes thinking about how we could teach our way through the Attention Economy.

Conversational Practice

5 minutes: Preparing yourself — how many 'pings' do you get in an hour?

15 minutes: Defining the problem. What is the attention economy? How do we help students understand the commodification of their own attention?

20 minutes: Collaborative Goal Setting - What would be your desired outcomes for a unit on the attention economy? What would you like student to know more about? Be able to do? Understand?

20 minutes: Collaborative Unit Planning - how might you structure a unit to achieve those goals? What would the activities be? What could a culminating project look like?

15 minutes: Share out.

15 minutes: Check your "ping" count. Discussion - what does this make you consider? What reflections does this cause you to make about you? Your students? How we all manage the attention economy?

Conversation Links

Presenter Profiles

Chris Lehmann
Chris Lehmann
SLA / School District of Philadelphia


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