Attention Please: Positioning Attention at the Center of Curriculum and Pedagogy


  • Oren Ergas Hebrew University


teaching, attention, curriculum, mindfulness, William James.


This paper explores two contradictory approaches to the concept of attention as it underlies curriculum theory based on conceptual analysis and empirical studies. The first approach depicts a common curricular-pedagogical conception based on the following premises: 1) Attention is a means for the acquisition of disciplinary knowledge. 2) Sustained voluntary attention is an unrealistic goal given the tendency of the mind to wander, hence the teacher is responsible for sustaining students’ attention. The second approach, stemming from theory and contemporary applications of ‘attentional training’ challenges both premises suggesting that: 1) Attention determines the quality of our life thus its cultivation is an end in itself. 2) The cultivation of sustained voluntary attention through self-practice is feasible and holds significant transformative educational potential. Based on the analysis proposed the paper suggests and exemplifies a balancing approach in which subject matter and attentional training can be integrated with each made subservient to the other at different times toward broadening the scope of education.

Author Biography

Oren Ergas, Hebrew University

Oren Ergsa lectures at the Hebrew University's school of education. His research examines curricular and pedagogical aspects of contemplative education.