The secret to studying effortlessly and achieving high performance
Watching some children and teenagers while they study, can be a good exercise to know what we are talking about when searching the secret to study effortlessly and achieve high performance: continuous movements, not focusing on the book more than a few minutes in a row, looking up every time, getting out of the chair frequently, certain periods of absence ...
Perhaps not all children and adolescents study as well, but it seems that the incidence of attention and concentration problems is increasing. Each time it is harder for them to focus to concentrate and give the attention the brain needs to study and achieve high performance.
We could define concentration as "a state of self-forgetfulness in which attention is completely absorbed and focused so much, that it is limited almost only to the narrow fringe of perception related to the task we are carrying out". With concentration we are serene and absorbed in what we do.
The oasis of effort: study concentrated
As pointed out by Daniel Goleman, the concentration makes us enter a kind of oasis in which, once in it, with little effort of will we maintain a high performance. We find ourselves engaged in a task, without intrusive thoughts that distract us. It is a state in which even the hardest work can be entertaining and rewarding, instead of strenuous and exhausting.
We all have experiences of this kind. If we like to build boats, for example, it would be impossible to finish one if we did not dedicate intense moments, ignoring if we are hungry, what they put on TV or the time that passes ... And this, in the studios, has important consequences because to the extent that our children are able to concentrate and maintain attention they will learn in a more effective way.
Intelligent, but ... lazy?
In order to learn and obtain good academic results, it is not enough to be intelligent, as is checked daily in the institutes. Many parents are also aware of this problem because they clearly see that their children are smart, perhaps with a higher than average coefficient, but there is no one who ties them to the table, or they lose interest in what they study. Indeed, intelligence is an important and basic capacity, but it is necessary for young people to put it into operation, otherwise it is not learned. And, on the contrary, experience shows that maybe not so smart children can get more success in life simply because they had to try harder since childhood, and that meant good training.
The capacity for concentration involves effort, making use of the will; It is something that can be trained, although it is also true that this ability is acquired from childhood. Achieving that oasis to study, which we talked about above (others speak of entering a capsule or bubble), can be definitive when it comes to academic results. An oasis that can be something physical: the best place (which is not in front of the television, nor the sofa), the best environment (lighting, comfort) and eliminating all possible distractors (music, calls, noises, other books different on top of the table, etc.).
5 types of attention
Concentration is not the same as attention, a more psychological concept, but supposes it. It is worth distinguishing the different types of attention:
1. Selective attention. It is the ability to respond to the essential aspects of a task or situation and ignore those irrelevant. In learning, it is important to spend time on the subjects and sections of each subject that are worthwhile, for example, instead of wasting time with information of little importance. In addition, we must bear in mind that, throughout a class, there are many different stimuli that you have to learn to ignore, because if you pay attention you can lose the thread of the subject: classmates, jokes, behavior of the teacher, what you see through the window *
2. Divided attention. This kind of attention is given when, in the face of an overload of stimuli, the resources we have are distributed. Is the ability to attend more than one stimulus at a time and is the one used in the performance of school work, when you have to consult several sources, for example. It is similar to how a computer works with several open windows, each of them carrying out a process, with a common goal.
3. Sustained attention. Ability to maintain attention for a period of time. It is a basic capacity, because the study is an activity that requires time, on the one hand, and, in addition, it is not usually the most rewarding that can be done, on the other.
4. Alternating attention. Ability to attend with mental flexibility, when necessary. Without this ability, students could block themselves when they had to move from a more humanistic activity to a more mathematical one.
5.Involuntary care Involuntary attention tends to be passive and emotional and is related to the appearance of a new stimulus, strong and significant: it is what is said when something "catches your attention". But it disappears almost immediately with repetition or monotony. When controlled voluntarily, these obstacles can be overcome.
However, we must bear in mind that in general, the attention is not unlimited. Thirty or forty minutes in a row, intense and productive, is more than enough. The programmed rest guarantees the effort and the following attention, provided that it is not excessively long and so crazy that it produces an irremediable deconcentration.