Concentrate, Pay attention, focus...
How many times do we hear this in the classroom? Focus is the bedrock of learning. If we can’t fix our attention to what is being taught, we miss things. If we miss things we can’t learn them. This leads to frustration and inevitably disengagement. This in turn leads to it being harder to concentrate. And so the vortex starts!
Before we exercise physically, we warm up the muscles. But how often do we warm up the brain for focus?
In order to understand focus we need to experience it. If we have not experienced it then the concept of ‘ focus ‘ will mean nothing at all.
Focus is experiential. To learn it you have to feel it.
As I.M Rawes says in the forward to his wonderful 'Honk, Conk and Squacket' book of lost sound words :
'We live on the other side of a great sonic extinction. What came before now appears as vital and fascinating, a world inhabited by people who listened to their surroundings more than we do....' We can revisit this time and learn to listen more. Intentionally listening which is what focus is.
Sound is focuses best friend. Sound demands focus by default. Sound awareness is focus.
Have a focus warm up, and do it regularly. It takes 90 seconds and can be done anywhere.
Sounds come and go. They appear at random. So at any given moment it is impossible to predict what sounds we may hear. All we have to do is pay attention and hear what is happening.
Pause for 90 seconds. Anywhere. And listen to the sounds. Note them. Filter them. Be totally aware of them. There is an element of surprise with this as we do not know what we may hear.
Recently in a year 5 class we heard, whilst sitting outside :
A water pump
Things being dragged
It doesn’t matter what is heard. It is just a chance to work on the focus. To experience it.
Following this you can apply this skill to learning. In my case I was working on ideas from sound. The children managed to focus brilliantly and came up with superb work.
Focus is something that is hard for ALL people not just children. Ask yourself how well you focus when potentially doing something you are not that in to.Or something that you have a history of failing at. This is what children can feel.
Try taking this time to work on focus for its own sake and celebrate the fact that when we focus we are aware of so much more.