Page last updated at 12:10 GMT, Tuesday, 14 April 2009 13:10 UK

TV 'reduces children's attention'

By Sean Coughlan
BBC News education reporter, at the Nasuwt conference

Children watching television
Children are easily bored at school, teachers say

Teachers are "struggling to compete" with the sound-bite culture of television, says a teachers' union leader.

Julian Chapman, president of the Nasuwt teachers' union, is warning the quick-fire pace of television is reducing concentration spans in UK classrooms.

This made it difficult for teachers trying to deliver more in-depth concepts, he said.

Poor pupil behaviour could be the result, he told the Nasuwt conference.

Such behaviour was not the result of dull teaching, but pupils who expected the presentation skills of a television studio, he said.


Speaking at the teaching union's conference in Bournemouth, Mr Chapman told delegates that school inspectors had linked disruptive behaviour with boring lessons.

But the union president highlighted how difficult it could be for teachers working with children whose boredom thresholds were shaped by the attention-grabbing culture of youth television.

"Students' concentration span appears to have been tailored to the sound and vision bite, rather than having to undergo the more rigorous process of in-depth learning," said Mr Chapman.

He also questioned how the education system could promote a more "healthy society".

"How can we turn the tide on the cult of possessions and consumerism that divides rather than unites people?"

Later this week the government's behaviour adviser Sir Alan Steer will deliver his report on improving behaviour in England's schools.

Among the contributory factors that have been debated is whether pupils' poor behaviour reflects a lack of relevance of lessons.

Mr Chapman told delegates that this would become an even more pressing question when pupils were required to stay in education or training until the age of 18.

"We need to be certain of the relevance and context if we are to keep students engaged and willing partners in education," he said.

However he warned that the Diploma, introduced to bridge the divide between academic and vocational qualification, was still clouded by a "measure of confusion".

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