Intention for better Attention
Where is your attention right now! Now! What senses are you aware off? What are you hearing, tasting, smelling, touching. Stop! Take your hands off your mouse/keyboard/ pen and STOP! Hello!!! That’s YOU.
Good. Now that YOU have YOUR attention, what is your INTENTION with the task you are currently doing? It doesn’t matter WHAT it is at the moment. What is your intention for spending these moments doing whatever it is you are doing. Go on, ask yourself the question; “Why am I doing what I am doing?” “What is my purpose in doing it?”
I’ll bet somewhere along your responses you will be moving TOWARDS pleasure or AVOIDING pain of some kind. Oh, I don’t mean moving towards ecstatic jubilance and unbridled ecstasy, ( although that’s a possibility) or avoiding excruciating pain ( and that’s a possibility too ). I mean simple pleasures like enjoying what you are reading, reading for pure enjoyment OR avoiding pain by procrastinating. That kind of thing. It really doesn’t matter too much, because now you’re getting more aware of your INTENTION aren’t you? More aware of the WHY of what you are doing. This can be critical and often life-changing. It might also save you some therapy and ‘coaching’ time in the future!
The same idea can be attached to teaching children. As a matter of fact, in my 25 years of teaching and tutoring children in Maths and English, I would wager that they are naturally more aware of their intention for doing whatever task they are engaged in. As they age and as the external ‘noise’ of life increases…parents, teachers, tv, phones, games, they tend to lose their idea of what their intention actually is. This then usually manifests as an attention problem. Their decreasing ( external ) awareness of their intention actually causes them to lose attention on their task.
When we work with children in our tutoring practise, one of the first exercises we get them to do is Active Body Engagement. We sit with them and guide them through a physical awareness of where they are in space and time at that moment. This immediately grounds them and this is the key. We then ask them to get clear about what they intend to learn ie. What their specific learning intention actually is. Usually they can get very specific. “I want to focus on my Times Tables.” ” My sentence structure needs some work.” “ Algebra is really causing me to struggle.”
With direct instructional questioning techniques, we can then narrow their intention down even further…”What specific Times Table would you like to work on?” “ What type of Algebra don’t you get?” The results, often surprise even the students themselves. They frequently recognise the link between their lack of attention on a task and their decreasing awareness of their learning intention.
So, next time you’re feeling a little ‘vague’ or lacking focus on a particular task, large of small, check in with some of your senses and ask yourself some simple questions; “Where is my attention at the moment?” and “What is my intention right this minute”. It could prove to be a significant return on your time investment. Better still, next time your child has some issues related to homework or school projects, do this simple exercise with them. You may just have given them one of life’s most practical gifts.