How and why children notice what adults miss

❝ Although adults can beat children at most cognitive tasks, new research shows that children’s limitations can sometimes be their strength.

❝ In two studies, researchers found that adults were very good at remembering information they were told to focus on, and ignoring the rest. In contrast, 4- to 5-year-olds tended to pay attention to all the information that was presented to them – even when they were told to focus on one particular item. That helped children to notice things that adults didn’t catch because of the grownups’ selective attention…

The results have important implications for understanding how education environments affect children’s learning

❝ Vladimir Sloutsky, co-author of the study, said that adults would do well at noticing and remembering the ignored information in the studies, if they were told to pay attention to everything. But their ability to focus attention has a cost – they miss what they are not focused on.

The ability of adults to focus their attention – and children’s tendency to distribute their attention more widely – both have positives and negatives.

❝ “The ability to focus attention is what allows adults to sit in two-hour meetings and maintain long conversations, while ignoring distractions,” Sloutsky said.

“But young children’s use of distributed attention allows them to learn more in new and unfamiliar settings by taking in a lot of information.”

RTFA for a couple of unanswered questions as interesting as the studies themselves. Like, taking the results and examining whether or not it might be useful to make classrooms boring?

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