Many years ago as the district in which I was employed prepared to move to a ‘block schedule’ at the high school level, we had outside speakers who provided training about effective instructional practices in longer blocks of time. The training included some insight into long-term and working memory systems. We learned that somewhere around the age of 14, individuals can handle about 5-7 chunks of information at a time. This was pertinent because obviously trying to ‘cram’ more than that into a lesson without a corresponding processing activity to move the knowledge into a longer-term ‘bucket’ was fruitless.
I was interested to hear David Sousa update this piece of knowledge at a recent conference I had the pleasure of attending. According to David, while it used to be 5-7 chunks that could be held in working memory, it is now 3-4 chunks.
Good or bad? I guess whether it is good or bad is a moot point. It is the new reality. Educators need to be aware of the ‘new reality’ because instructional practices should be reflective of the most current brain knowledge.