Closed red curtain at the Coolidge Corner Thea...

Image by brokentrinkets via Flickr

In Prof. John Medina’s book Brain Rules, the author describes a scenario in which, after having been asked to tutor a friend’s teenaged son, he finds the student busy listening to music, downloading an image, playing a game, and chatting with friends . . . while simultaneously working on his homework assignment.

I’ve taught English at the college level for 10 years, and on one hand, this multitasking scene does not surprise me.  On the other hand, let’s say I never taught, never witnessed the apparent effects technology has had on students’ habits, and drew only from my own high school experience (waaay back in the cassette tape era when word processors were just starting to come around).  I think I’d be a little astonished at the multitasking homework scenario.  Why?  After all, “multitasking” has come to be the fashion in the working world, too: at least for those whose work is heavily at the computer.  Well–because for me, anyway, homework and studying always have required a pretty strong dose of concentration.  So I think I’d be asking, “How can that student concentrate?”

How interesting to read, in Brain Rules, that he can’t.  None of us can pay attention, truly, to several things at once – hence “multitasking” is not really possible (not at work, not in school, not behind the wheel).  An interesting link that illustrates: http://www.brainrules.net/attention/?scene=3

Hence, if studying is regularly a frustrating event for you, try unplugging a few things and starting over with a more silent, less animated slate.

Advertisements