Who's never been much for dabbling ~

Sunday, January 13, 2013

PAY ATTENTION! Firing and Wiring

Today I asked my muse to make sense of some of the seemingly unrelated material I have read, watched and thought about lately.  Here goes -

I was watching a video and reading articles on the Nicabm site (National Institute for the Clinical Application of Behavioral Medicine) and I became curious about Daniel Siegel's thoughts on paying attention.  This topic always interests me as an educator, coach and - well, a person.  Would you agree that paying attention can improve the quality of all sorts of activities, including friendships and family relations?  I find this to be true, although plenty of people are willing to excuse others for not paying attention to them.  Perhaps this is a "gimmie" so we'll be excused when we need one.

Siegel made it simple in his video: "Neurons that fire together, wire together."  We have daily opportunities to change our brains neurologically, if we'll concentrate long enough to allow our neurological system to respond to the content we are inputting.  Focusing everyday on what we say is important to us, how we prefer to behave and how and to what we respond to is a discipline that brain craves for growth.

Not only does this have personal implications, but as a leader of teams or musical ensembles, it could mean that getting everyone to pay attention simultaneously and consistently will change the dynamics of the entire team going forward.  It makes sense that creating some similar wiring affords us better odds that we will move in concert.  (Please) PAY ATTENTION, therefore, becomes more than just a request for obedience, but a call for mutual understanding.

That takes me to another current thought, which does apparently connect to the first: the overemphasis and demand for obedience, especially in our schools.  Sucking off the tit of obedience for thirteen years will not create the strong brain wiring necessary to navigate our complicated 21st century world, but paying attention will.  This may sound like semantics, but I advocate we motivate students (or team members) to pay attention rather than demanding obedience.  We must give our students compelling reasons to focus their precious attention, creating relevance and constant connections for strong brain synapses.  The case for obedience "so they'll get what we're teaching" is weak.  We all know we can appear obedient without actually engaging.  (Quiet does not equal learning.)

So that's a bit of thought congealing from me today - along with watching Streisand phone one in on her new movie Guilt Trip; although my brain couldn't retain the title 24 hours later and I had to look it up (inject obvious reason here: ______)  Football?  Yes, that too.  I think the Packers defense could have payed more attention to the SF quarterback running at will all over the field.
From my brain wiring to yours, I leave you with: Let's Pay Attention - our brains are counting on us!

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