Lacking Attention Or Motivation: We Should Tell Stories in Our Classrooms

A mom and a teacher, Shari Gent, provides nine tips to help kids who struggle in starting and completing tasks in one of the recent issues of ADDitude magazine. While most of her suggestions involve rewards and a change in mindset, one seems to have a high probability of working and may apply, in fact, to all students: "connect uninteresting activities to areas of interest". Children diagnosed with the attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are capable of demonstrating at least in a few activities focus, organization and motivation. These are often activities that are of great interest.

Shari Gent shares nine tips to help your child start and complete a task in ADDititude magazine

Thomas Brown, a clinical psychologist specializing on ADHD, notes this similarity among all children, regardless of whether they have ADHD or not in his article, "The Mystery of ADHD Motivation, Solved". All children are motivated in tasks that they are interested in.

While Brown does describe the lack of motivation insightfully, comments from readers clearly indicate a wanting for a solution. Obviously, the solution lies in how we can make learning in a classroom more interesting. One possible solution previously discussed in this blog is storytelling.

In "State of the Heart", we are reminded of the following characteristics of stories:
  • Stories have always been a primal form of communication. 
  • Stories are about collaboration and connection. 
  • Stories are how we think. 
  • Stories provide order. 
  • Stories are how we are wired. 
  • Stories are the pathway to engaging our right brain and triggering our imagination.
And in "Stories Add Spice", the work by Arya and Maul, published in the Journal of Educational Psychology, is highlighted. Students given a narrative that presents a scientific concept or discovery do better than students who are given a traditional nonnarrative version.

In so many occasions, what we see as useful for students with disabilities turns out to be applicable to all. After all, all children regardless of whether they have an attention problem or not, are still learning "will power" and "self-control". And even for adults, a boring non-engaging presentation still works as good as a sleeping pill.