Joined: 06 April 2007
Nearly everyone has difficulty in the concentration of attention. Brain workers in business and industry, students in high school and college, and even professors in universities, complain of the same difficulty. Attention seems in some way to be at the very core of mental activity, for no matter from what aspect we view the mind; its excellence seems to depend upon the power to concentrate attention.
In judging the intelligence of people with whom we associate every day, we regard one who is able to maintain close attention for long periods of time as a person of strong mind. We rate Thomas Edison as a powerful thinker when we read that he becomes so absorbed in work that he neither eats nor sleeps.
If you wish to become a good student, you must prepare conditions as favorable as possible for study. Choose a quiet room to live in, free from distracting sounds and sights. Have your room at a temperature neither too hot nor too cold; 68' F. is usually considered favorable for study. When reading in the library, sit down in a quiet spot, with your back to the door, so you will not be tempted to look up as people enter the room. Do not sit near a group of gossipers or near a creaking door. Having made the external conditions favorable for study, you should next address yourself to the task of eliminating bodily distractions.
The most disturbing of these in study are sensations of fatigue, for, contrary to the opinion of many people, study is very fatiguing work and involves continual strain upon the muscles in holding the body still, particularly those of the back, neck, arms, hands and, above all, the eyes. How many movements are made by your eyes in the course of an hour's study! They sweep back and forth across the page incessantly, being moved by six muscles which are bound to become fatigued. Still more fatigue comes from the contractions of delicate muscles within the eyeball, where adjustments are made for far and near vision and for varying amounts of light. The eyes, then, give rise to much fatigue, and, altogether, are the source of a great many bodily distractions in study.
In trying to create conditions for efficient study, many bodily distractions can be eliminated. The study chair should be easy to sit in so as to reduce fatigue of the muscles supporting the body; the book-rest should be arranged so as to require little effort to hold the book; the light should come over the left shoulder. This is especially necessary in writing, so that the writing hand will not cast a shadow upon the work. The muscles of the eyes will be rested and fatigue will be retarded if you close the eyes occasionally. Then in order to lessen the general fatigue of the body, you may find it advantageous to rise and walk about occasionally. Lastly, the clothing should be loose; especially there should be plenty of room for circulation.
But in spite of our most careful provisions, there will still be distractions that cannot be eliminated. The only thing to do then is to accept as inevitable the presence of some distractions, and to realise that to pay attention, it is necessary to habituate yourself to the ignoring of distractions. In the accomplishment of this end it will be necessary to apply the principles of habit formation already described. Start out by making a strong determination to ignore all distractions. Practice ignoring them, and do not let a slip occur. Try to develop interest in the object of attention, because we pay attention to those things in which we are most interested.
If deficiency of knowledge is the cause of your lapses of attention, the obvious remedy is to turn back and study the fundamental facts; to lay a firm foundation in your subjects of study.
Joined: 16 March 2009
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