Month: September 2010

17,000 TEXT MESSAGES THIS MONTH – “I Can Multitask!”

Kiera, age 16, has had a rough year in school. After receiving grades of D’s and F’s in most of her major subjects, Kiera’s parents have brought her to a variety of specialists. Different medications were prescribed and tried. "Train the brain" memory programs were completed at a price tag of $3500. Still the grades showed no sign of changing and Kiera’s parents felt frustrated and depleted.

"Well, we just don’t know what to do," Kiera’s parents stated. "She takes zero responsibility for herself. Also her ‘texting’ is out of control. Just last month she had over 17,000 text messages.

Let’s do the math.

For arguments sake, we’ll say that there are essentially eight free hours for the average high school student from the time they finish school (around 2:30) to the time they go to sleep. 8 hours = 480 minutes. 480 minutes X 30 ( the number of days in a month) = 14,400 minutes. I don’t know what the average length of time is for a typical text message, but it would certainly appear that young Kiera has used up a significant chunk of her unstructured time (not to mention that she’s probably texting throughout her school day) with her 17,000 monthly text messages.

When confronted by her parents, Kiera screamed, "I am great at multitasking. Leave me alone!!!!"

Back in May, I attended a wonderful conference on Learning and the Brain. One of the research findings that stuck with me was the mythology of multitasking. According to the findings, "multitasking" was noted to be a neurological impossibility. We may think we are good at multitasking, but the concept of doing different things at the same time simply does not exist.

Good luck explaining that to your child this year as she is texting her day away.


You’re a 10 year old boy with a learning disability. This learning disability stuff is very tough. Every day you look around the room and see people finishing tasks quickly, getting smiles from the teacher for all the work handed in on time. You don’t get those smiles. Writing is particularly galling to you, because you just don’t get it – it’s so hard. When the teacher starts off the day stating, “Now take out your journals,” you just want to run away.

You don’t know how to get started in your journal. The teacher says to “just write what you feel,” but you have no idea how you feel. The words on the page bleed into one another. No one can read it. Not even you. Meghan sitting next to you keeps making those stupid snickering faces when you write.

Topic writing is worse than journals. Not only is it all so messy, but you have no idea how to get started, and it all takes so long. Meghan sitting next to you was completely done before you had one sentence (a bad one at that) down. Worse, topic writing goes on the bulletin board. The last paper you handed in was such a mess. You can’t stand to see your writing up on the bulletin board. “Why do they have to put that junk up on the board?” you wonder.

At home you’re sitting nearby when you hear a bit of tension between your parents. You think you heard your mother saying something to your dad, “but he has a 504 Plan,” and, “He can take as much time as he likes. Why can’t he just get it done?”

On hearing this you think to yourself, “What is this 504 Plan anyway? I wonder if it has anything to do with those wires they put on my head a few weeks ago in the doctor’s office to test out my brain waves. Now, that visit really helped my self-esteem. Wires on my head! Brain waves! Yeesh! Take as much time as I like for writing!!!!  Who wants more time???? I hate writing. I don’t want to take more than one minute for journal. Are they kidding me? Do it tonight if I can’t finish. I can’t stand Meghan. She was already on the worksheet and I hadn’t even started the journal. 504 Plan??? They want me to take twice as long to do a bad job. I’d like to see them spend hours on something only to get a grade of a D or an F.”

“Well, tomorrow’s another day.”


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