“Focus is essential to achieve your desired goal”- a commonly heard statement used by almost every other person at some point in their life.
“Sit quietly and focus on the activity” another widespread instruction given by a teacher in the classroom setup.
As a teacher and a parent myself, I believe sitting at a place is the most difficult task for a child. And we commonly perceive that the one who can’t sit at a place can’t focus.
I would like to disagree with this notion and present my thoughts on it:
I believe there are many misconceptions surrounding focus. These misconceptions often lead people to have a misinformed perspective on focus, thus making it difficult to adopt as a possible quality to cultivate in life. I’ll pick a couple of them and hope to eliminate these misconceptions here.
During a regular class, we essentially wish that our children only follow us with all their senses. We wish to have a classroom where:
- Children sit attentively and do not ask unnecessary questions
- Children complete their work on time and do it neatly
- Children understand all that is taught in just one go
- Children do not disturb the class
- They remain seated during the class
A perfect classroom to many is synonymous with “NO NOISE.”
Look at the following picture and reflect:
- Are these kids not focused on listening to their teacher?
- Are they distracted?
- Why are they listening to this teacher?
- How this teacher has caught the attention of all 5 kids at the same time?
The answers to these questions can perhaps change one’s perception of focus.
We often confuse focus with discipline. Let’s see “What, the focus is not”.
Focus is not the absence of joy- Focus for most people is an image or a video of someone concentrating on reading a book or a tennis player focused on waiting for his opponent to serve the ball to him. Eyes locked in on the subject of focus. An absorbed and highly attentive look across the face with the forehead slightly cringed. Also, we’ve all seen a video or more of a girl running carefree through the forest or on a beach, arms stretched out to the side, embracing the wind blowing through her and on her face. She looks like she is not concentrating. When you see this video, you think to yourself, "She’s free. That's what I want. I don't want to be so focused that I can’t enjoy life." Let’s not make learning a similar experience.
I believe that a person can be most focused when he/she is enjoying. Imagine how you remember every detail of a party that happened a few months ago, or the scenes of a movie, not to forget the educational trips and the school annual days. You remember every detail of these events because you had a great time, and that’s what focus means. As a teacher and parent, it’s high time we reset our expectation.
“Focus simply defined is the ability to stay engaged with who or what you are within unbroken continuity”.
Focus doesn’t mean being stressed - Another common misconception is that if I am focused, it means I am not relaxing. Has it ever happened to you that you are reading your favourite book sitting on a recliner? And when your mom asks you didn’t answer the doorbell, you say, “I didn’t hear it.”
Here you were focused and relaxed at the same time. On the contrary, when you cannot focus, it takes a lot of effort to focus, and this act is not relaxing indeed. Hence, so many people think focusing is exhausting and not relaxing because all these people can’t focus.
The bottom line is that: the state of focus results in greater joy because you can better experience the things and people that you love.
When we can develop a love for ourselves and the subject, focus automatically comes into the picture.
Now, look at the first picture again.
- Do you think the teacher and students have a strong connection?
- Do you think that the students would be focused in her class and love learning what she teaches?
If it’s “YES”, then the key here: the day you start enjoying a task, it means you have attained focus in it. So let focus seep in automatically and make our journey of learning a joyful experience.
That is living a full life!
She is a Life Members and volunteer on the National Training Team of Learning Forward India.
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