Scattershot. Now, that’s one word I learned today. According to the Collins Essential English Dictionary (2nd Edition 2006 © HarperCollins Publishers 2004, 2006), scattershot means “wide-ranging but indiscriminate” as in a scattershot approach to conversation. If I have to visualize it, this word probably came about when a long time ago, a reckless and impulsive hunter liked to fire indiscriminately at all directions hoping to hit his target regardless of whatever or whomever he shoots at…hence scattershot. Hmmm, he probably must have had a hunting party of one.

Anyway, I got this word from an article of Maggie Jackson who has a column at the Boston Globe, “Balancing Acts.” In her column, Jackson talks about the need to narrow down our scattershot world into a more focused and insightful existence; the value of balancing our work and private lives; the social impact of technology on our lives; and the importance of family life, focus and paying attention.

Working with children (as well as adults) with ADHD for a number of years gave me a lot of insights as to how attention (or the lack of it) can make a huge impact in our lives–emotionally, physically, spiritually, and mentally. It has become a topic of great interest to me that I figure that this so-called science of attention should really be given, well…more attention.

According to Jackson:

The ability to pay careful attention isn’t important just for students and air traffic controllers. Researchers are finding that attention is crucial to a host of other, sometimes surprising, life skills: the ability to sort through conflicting evidence, to connect more deeply with other people, and even to develop a conscience.

Before I read her article, I just gave a talk about this recently with a group of my co-teachers, emphasizing the need for attention-management training and that it should be a part of every school’s curriculum, even starting them young as in preschool-young. I also voiced out the need for more uni-tasking and lessening of multi-tasking but in this fast-paced, profit-driven, get-your-fix-at-the-click-of-a-button world (of which I am also guilty of), who will listen to me?

Jackson is calling out for a “renaissance of attention.” Attention training can make children grow up to be reflective thinkers, and better life-decision makers. I agree when she also said that we as adults should serve as role models as well–and not offer our kids a land of distraction but a land of less TV and more reading and quiet contemplation. She cited experts who say that attention-training is “critical” as well as an “exciting” thing; and with good attentional control, one can “do more than just pay attention to someone speaking at a lecture…(one) can control (one’s) cognitive processes, emotions,” and have better articulation of one’s own actions.

Imagine a “renaissance of attention…” I’m excited about being a part of it (actually, I’m excited about being a part of a renaissance of anything)! And as an educator, I can even actually DO something to help make this happen. Do you feel the excitement, too…um…hello…you’re still there? Sigh…

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