Creative Distraction

So often parents, teachers, and administrators feel that many students leave the school today without learning what was intended for them to learn.  And, they would be right.  But the paradox of this assumption is that students do learn lots of things each day at school, it’s just that what they are learning isn’t necessarily what was intended for them to learn.  Yet, these unintended learning experiences that occur outside the prescribed curriculum ARE the learning that becomes invaluable to them in life.

The teacher tells the student, “pay attention.”  The student has no idea what this means.  Actually, it’s not that the student isn’t paying attention, it’s that the student is attracted to something other than what the teacher desires.  The something else could lead to bigger, more powerful ideas for the student–being distracted is really being attracted to something different than what is expected.  Once teachers accept this shift in perspective, a number of questions can be asked:

  • What is it that is attracting the student?
  • What can be learned from this attraction/interest?
  • Can we use this attraction to stimulate attraction to something we want to attend to?
  • What can be learned from this attraction/interest?
  • Can we use this attraction to stimulate attraction to something we want to attend to?

A key understanding for teachers is to accept that the lack of attention on the part of a student is probably due to something other than lack of mental ability or maturity of the individual.

Go ahead…ask teachers what is meant by “paying attention”,  then ask students the same questions.  Share you insights, comments, and ideas here, and take a look at Ellen J. Langer’s book “The Power of Mindful Learning”  available on Amazon:

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