Two weeks ago today I was rushing to get ready for my holiday, so I foolishly thought I could save time by preparing a lesson, creating materials, finishing off one or two animations that I’m designing as well as doing my packing… All in one hour, before I set off. Of course, being superhuman I managed it and set off on holiday, convinced that I’d done a good job. When I came back however, I checked my lesson plan, and found that I really had to redesign some exercises, and a few days ago my editor sent most of the animations back, because they were filled with little typos. I was mortified, and had to sit down and go through them all again! The moral of this sad little story is that by rushing to save time I ended up taking a lot more time to do things. This is nothing new, but it made me think once more about how important it is to be as ‘mindful’ as possible in life, and not only at work.
This is, firstly, because it ensures a certain quality of life. It’s hard to feel stressed when you breathe deeply and concentrate on the sunset for three minutes ( which is often all it takes to calm down). Secondly, by slowing down and taking a certain pride in doing things well, just for the fun of it, the quality of those things tends to improve. This week I approached my animations from a different point of view, and found all kinds of ideas popping up, simply because I was not feeling stressed about having to do them. Someone, and I’m sorry but I can’t remember who, said that is important to remember that our bodies are not simply vehicles that transport our minds from one meeting to the next, or you could add, from one job to the next, and this is so true. I know that I, for one, have a tendency to see every day as being dominated by my ‘to do’ list, and things get ticked off one after another, but somewhere along the way I forget to live.
Our world is a world of multitasking, we know. This is often seen as a skill that we all have to develop if we are to survive in the digital age. I recently did a quiz at their BBC labs, a wonderful place for those who like quizzes. It was a product of their ‘Virtual Revolution’ programme and analysed your ‘web behaviour’ likening you to one of several web animals. Imagine my horror when I discovered that far from being the multitasking, online maverick I had fondly thought myself to be I was… a web hedgehog! The write up for this was suitable disparaging: a loner who stubbornly goes after one thing when searching online, not to b distracted by thr siren calls of the vatious hyperlinks lurking along my path… And rolling up into a prickly little ball when attacked etc. etc.
However, I have recently deecided that this is not such a bad thing and all ties in with the idea of mindfulness, or being aware of what you are doing and why. I don’t claim to succeed more than fraction of the time, and in fact I just noticed an ad by Google for Croatia’s national parks, so I had to leave you for a minute. But, and it’s a big but, I can concentrate on reading an article if I choose to, and I limit my ‘aimless surfing’ as I put it to ten minutes or so, at a time. At this point my thoughts turn to Nicholas Carr, once again, and to his book, The Shallows, or his article ‘Is Google making us stupid?’ The point he makes is that we are reading in different ways and the magpie approach to reading is possibly not the best. What it boils down to, as has been said many times before, is how we use technology and educators, who are generally digital immigrants, like me, can help younger learners to develop different approaches to reading that they can mindfully choose to apply.
If you are reading a novel on an ipad, then you probably eant to do that, and just because it beeos at you to tell you that an email has arrived, this doesn’t mean you have to look at it right at that minute! By helping learners to use the resources at thier fingertips mindfully, we can help them to see these things as the magic enhancers of the learning experience that they are, rather than evil siren’s seducing us from our paths as they sit there on their rocks, singing their songs.
Oh, and by the way, it’s true! I do tend to roll up into a prickly little ball when under attack, so you have been warned :-).