Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali’s blog about education

Mindful (in)attention?


This post is inspired by a post by Alan Levine where he makes this call:

Because, I conjecture, if you can hone your senses for seeing nuanced suggestions of good/worthy/intriguing ideas out there in the information flow, you can get much more out of it than just getting soaked.

I don’t know. Play along with me. Tell me what clues your senses, if you really do have an attention span less than a goldfish, how well do you use it?

His post was partly inspired by some tweets I made y/day based on the below video, posted on Tania’s blog

It’s a cool video and a bit of a slap in the face, about social media, which I think is exaggerated but has lots of truth behind it. I got kinda pissed off at around 1:50-1:57 where the guy talks about our attention span now being less than that of a goldfish. Partly, it sounds unsubstantiated and reminded me of an earlier post by Alan on clichés running around on the internet and people not stopping to do proper research and find citations. I “researched” it and found at first some silly refs, one of which links to what the blogger is calling “the national center for…” Something, but which is really a link to a website of ppl who like playing with stats!!!! And even then, that website shows our attention span was never really that much better than a goldfish’s. But umm i don’t know how credible that source is (and come to think of it, how do you measure a goldfish’s attention span in a way comparable to human beings?). Besides, other things affect attention span other than social media. Ahem. I am right now sitting at the office of my mobile provider writing this blog as the customer service person is off doing something else. Want to write this before i pick my daughter up from daycare (i started writing this while commuting) and soon i will be going out with family so won’t be able to get back to this til later…

And just before writing this post, Andrea Rehn posted a comment on Tania’s blog, sharing her class assignment about mindfulness (on Tania’s blog), which seems to be one approach to answer Alan’s question. So here’s me.

So… No time for me to do the mindfulness thing NOW, and I like Andrea’s assignment in terms of asking students to do the exercise more than once… So will blog soon after I have had a chance of doing it a few times 🙂

An important question i ask myself is this, though. If i was not glued to my screen so often (particularly when i am with my child, which i should and do feel guilty about), what would i be doing? And i know the answer. I’d be talking on the phone or (even more likely) reading a book. Sure, smartphones make it easier to do these two things more often than usual (more choice of books on kindle than i could ever carry in my bag) but still. Other ppl would be watching TV. When real life is not engaging (not blaming real life) you zone out in some way or another. I don’t know if there are full-time moms out there (like i used to be the first year of my child’s life) who are capable of full-time attention to their child without talking on the phone, watching TV, or checking a screen. It’s tough spending lots of time at home caring for a child alone. It drives you crazy socially or intellectually, or it did for me anyway.

But that’s a side rant. Back to the mindfulness thing. I’ll do Andrea’s thing and write again reflecting on that.


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