Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Strategies for Getting and Keeping the Brain's Attention

The human brain has an amazing capacity to wield a potent cognitive strategy: selective attention. When we consciously focus our attention on something, we bring the power of the prefrontal cortex to this endeavor.

By honing our ability to focus attention at will, we can more effectively screen out two types of distractions:
  1. Input through our sensory organs, and
  2. Our emotional responses.
Distractions via sensory input may be the easier of the two to block, according to Daniel Goleman in his book Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence. As educators, we may tend to notice the impact of sights, sounds, and touch points that draw students' focus away from lessons and learning activities. But while all of the sensory stimulations in the environment are readily obvious, emotions can be even "louder" when it comes to diverting attention in unwanted directions and making it hard to focus on learning.

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