Paying Attention

I don’t know what annoys me more:

The fact that it is impossible for me to pay attention to my homework at home.


The fact that I now know the fact above. Now I’m perfectly aware that I wonder off in the middle of reading or even writing, but it doesn’t stop me.

After reading Howard Rheingold’s first chapter in Net Smart, about attention, I am much more aware of how I focus my attention when studying, reading and writing. I always knew that I was scatterbrained but I didn’t understand to the degree I know now. The thing that stuck out to me the most in the chapter was describing how much information our brain is constantly taking in and how much of it we actually acknowledge. While reading it, I became hyper-aware of my surroundings. I could hear conversations, my feet were cold, I could feel the table underneath my forewarms, and feel the hair on my forehead.It was insane! And this didn’t annoy me so much as bringing my attention to many other things. Understanding this, made me understand my personal ability to focus better in a hectic environment. 

When I read at home, I will “read” three pages, but the only thing I’ve learned is that my phone went off twice, my dog licks her butt  too much and I’m really…really hungry. But no new knowledge from the book I was “reading”.  So I have to either: read out loud at home and become my own free audio book or I have to do homework at school.

School. noun. (sk-ool) : a place where people are screaming, burning food in the microwave, and walking by me and nudging my chair. This is where I decide to do my homework. Smart move, Sam. Surprisingly though, I can pay attention to my homework in that environment. It would be inconvenient for me to move locations, or get up to get something to eat. I just sit there, listen to Bon Iver radio on Pandora and bust through my entire to do list.

It makes me wonder why I need all of my senses tortured for me to keep my attention on my homework.  It should be the opposite right?

In high school, they tell you the correct way to do everything. Even the correct way to sit in your chair for maximum focus.

“In order to study efficiently, you need to sit somewhere closed off from everyone else, dimmed lighting and in total silence. This is the only way to pay attention to your studies.”

Did you just describe a jail cell? Guess I’ll just go to the local police station and ask for a holding cell, because that’s the only place I can seem to really “pay attention to my studies.”

Epiphany moment!

Traditional techniques aren’t really my thing. But it makes sense when you think about the time that those teachers came from (not calling anyone old) and current time.

When my teachers were kids, they didn’t have moving billboards, or mirrors in the bathroom that when you aren’t standing in front of it is playing an advertisement, or simply the Internet that we are accustomed to today.

Today’s Internet: Fast, interactive, and usually displaying numerous ads on all margins.  So when you think about what “effective studying” for them would be and what that would mean to us… it’s completely different.

I’m used to my senses being overwhelmed constantly. So when I study, that’s a normal environment to me.  Don’t get me wrong, I love some solitude. I love being in my apartment, without the TV on, just relaxing. That doesn’t bring me into focus; the environment I’m used to does though.


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