I wrote recently about focus, or the lack thereof. It’s a topic that showing up frequently in what I’m reading, what I’m hearing, and the conversations I’m having with people in the context of how hard it is to change our habits. This morning another article on the subject was sent to me. This made my jaw drop:
“A University of Virginia-led study (11 studies, actually) discovered that participants would rather face electric shock than sit quietly alone with their thoughts for six to 15 minutes”
Good grief. What have we created. What are we doing to ourselves? What are we teaching our kids? What are we teaching them to pay forward to their kids?
The article is about a growing body of professors – at both community colleges and elite universities – that are deepening their students learning by “rallying around the virtues of stillness and silence as essential to learning”. I want my kids in front of these professors.
Don’t know about your experience, but my kid was initially challenged in the college learning environment that required actually absorbing information, after 4 years of high school learning where memorization and standardized test performance ruled. As he developed his skills of focusing, undistracted study, and pondering the material – his understanding began to deepen. Grades up. Stress levels down. Curiosity engaged.
It’s likely we know someone who either self-describes or has been medically labeled – and perhaps medicated – as ADHD or some variation thereof. Our cultural ethos and practice bolsters this trend. Stillness and silence are hardly in anyone’s vocabulary anymore, let alone something we help our children – young adults especially – develop and appreciate.
“Is it really surprising that we encourage children to constantly juggle as much as they can, though research shows that the resting (not restless) brain sorts through and saves recently acquired information and deepens cognitive connections?”
No, I guess it’s not surprising. But it’s sad. And concerning. Especially when we reach the point that electric shock is preferable.