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Now You See It How the Brain Science of Attention Will Transform the Way We Live, Work, and Learn by Davidson, Cathy N. [Viking Adult,2011] [Hardcover] Hardcover
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It remains to be seen what the science of attention will actually teach us. Within attention studies, there is a growing interest in effortless attention. Although people assumed that greater effort would yield greater attention, the most productive attention turns out to be of the effortless kind. If attention is effortless--people used to worry that it was unwilled--then what kinds of control can we have over it? Although we perceive it as effortless, is that in fact true? One might explore how much glucose is consumed in allegedly effortless attention compared to concentrated attention. If the best attention is effortless, does it really mean that when students wander off task it is really the fault of a bad teacher? All Davidson has done here is to move the problem from the student--attention deficit makes the student someone to be medicated--to the teacher--now poor attention is the fault of the teacher who does not turn to the internet to rethink his teaching. What the science of attention studiously avoids is the unconscious.
A lot about education does need rethinking. But Davidson needs to rethink the extent to which the internet achieves a breakdown of old hierarchies. Yes, users have more control over content. What about the digital divide, the gap between schools like Duke that have the Gates Foundation to hand over 10 million dollars to explore technology and education and others? Does a decrease in hierarchy mean that hierarchy no longer exists? It does not help make her case that a lot of her examples are things no real educator truly believes in like multiple choice tests or intelligence tests.
Ultimately is attention deficit simply an unappreciated form of multi-tasking? Wishful thinking abounds here. Nonetheless, the book is an eloquent call to rethink the work of education in light of web 2.0.
Now I have to go apologize to my gamer son, shake up my workplace again, rewrite my resume, reframe my interpretation of the world around me, look up a lot of resources Cathy Davidson named in the book, and probably play a video game or two. This can't possibly be pleasant. But it will be. My sincere thanks to the author for making me see things differently.