[email protected]: Cathy Davidson



welcome to this authors at Google Talk Kathy Davidson has emerged as a voice for not only rethinking pedagogy but the education system as a whole exploring the role of digital media in learning and teaching she co-authored the future of thinking learning institutions in the digital age she co-founded haystack humanities arts sciences and technology advanced collaboratory which is dedicated to rethinking learning for our own information age and she also co-directs the haystack and macarthur foundation digital media and learning competition but kathy davidson is not just a theorist she is a practitioner she teaches a course at Duke University called this is your brain on the internet and in 2003 went to the vice provost for interdisciplinary studies she led what she calls the ipod experiment crowdsourcing educational innovation for the digital age she gave every incoming freshman an ipod and invited them to dream up learning applications for this device and pitch their ideas to the faculty developing curriculum together we've heard a lot of critiques from people like Nicholas Carr and sherry Turkle about the negative effects of digital media but kathy davidson offers a contrarian opinion and now you see it how the brain science of attention will transform the way we live work and learn and she is joined in conversation by fellow contrarian Howard Rheingold also known as my dad and in his upcoming book netsmart had thrive online Howard also explores the topic of attention as one of five essential literacies for the digital age I will introduce him more in depth when hopefully he comes back to the authors at Google program next spring to launch his book but you may know him from his last book smart mobs the next social revolution which a decade ago prefigured the use of digital media as a tool of collective action as we are observing with Arab Spring and occupy wall street he is the former editor of the whole earth review and he was the founding editor of hotwired and besides being an author and a thought leader he's also an educator he teaches at Stanford and at Berkeley and like Cathy Howard challenges the traditional constructs of the classroom and the dynamics of learning through the social media classroom and his online learning community Rheingold you and you can see them next as a featured session at South by Southwest so I will now turn it over to Kathy and Howard all right it's nice it's nice to see an almost full house that for this and I think you'll see it's pretty germane to the kinds of things that you're doing all day long certainly germane to what I do all day long and I want to move towards talking about the future of learning and the future of attention in the workplace and i also want to after we have a little bit of conversation open things up for conversation with everybody here so if you've got got questions give us a little time to get into this and then and then we'll open it up for a conversation for the room at large before we move into the future I just wanted to ask you about the ways in which when we talk about attention we're really talking about an industrial era way of training our attention um I'm on the midst of a long book tour and often when I start actually giving a formal talk which and I love having this conversation today instead of a formal talk I often have people write on a little card and I set a timer for 90 seconds and say write the three most important things college students today can learn for their future I never say do it silently and do it alone and I don't have to ever the room goes like a tomb right that's a form of attention timed task specific individual attention that had to be drilled into us for the last 150 years and virtually everything about the compulsory school movement in the 19th century was to instill that kind of attention I happen to be trained in a historian of the last information era I actually went around to historical societies and looked in the in the dusty addicts for uncataloged books to figure out what the very first generation of mass readers we're reading and how they treated their books this is when steam-powered press is a machine-made ink and paper around the time of the founding fathers made books available the middle class people for the first time and working-class people for the first time in human history and it freaked everybody out right educators and pundits were saying we need to have people in school because now they can read on their own we need to teach them how to read when they've got that book we have to instill in them the practices of a certain kind of informed and reformed reading so the home movement of the late 19th century is to teach us how to think in certain ways and how to think to certain trained task-specific i would say Taylor eyes use of learning you all know Frederick Winslow Taylor is the person in the 1890s and the teens invented scientific labor management that gets transformed around the same time period in doubt into education K through graduate school which i call scientific learning management in the sense that we quantify individual tasks and attention the whole history of the study of attention the 20th century sets that as the goal and distraction from it as setting us off that course and I think we need a far more profound and fluid view of attention the East has developed that for five thousand years and we're just learning about different modes of attention and I think contemporary neuroscience in the last ten years has given us different models of attention and that's what I'm interested in not in the idea of distraction in the old sense of how you get waylaid from a single task but a brain that's constantly plastic and constantly multitasking so you know when we hear about attention focus seems to be the gold standard sit in your chair in a row and work on your project I had a terrible time with it in school and I know that you did well I suspect that many people in this room did as well and and many when she was in preschool really learning and when she came back from her first day at school she looked so crestfallen I asked her what could possibly be wrong and she said they make you sit in these these roads in these desks all day long and then they ring bells at you I went to a classroom i sent the bells are really loud and they make you jump the first two times and then I just I didn't have the heart to tell her how many years of that gene she had a head and here we are all sitting in a rose is just sort of that where you were we're in the quintessential not industrial era room oh so what's changing alright well first of all that the bell thing this you know the symbol of compulsory mandatory education in America in the 19th century was the school bell because obviously if you're a farmer you get up when the Sun Sun rises right and it changes all the time and you go out into your field and if the fence needs to be mended you mend the fence and if the horse needs to be shod your shoe the horse you had to be taught how to sit in a little desk how to get there on time and the weirdest I mean think about what Newton or Galileo would think about contemporary education right that you're going to take time tests and the way you teach kids is you say okay now it's reading class okay that hour is over it doesn't matter if you've learned or haven't learned now we're going to go to math class okay that hour is over now and interestingly in the compulsory school movement which goes from Massachusetts to Mississippi 1858 to 1918 we think the health care debate took too long took a long time right 1858 in 1915 1918 nobody ever questions timeliness every state that passes compulsory education says the most important thing to do is to get people on time learning subjects on time learning things on tests everybody doing the same thing at the same road they argue about whether it's communist they don't use the word communist they argue about whether it's they really want to invest in compulsory education but nobody argues about that so having to unlearn that and my guess is most of you at Google have already done this but trying to figure out a society that can unlearn that form of attention think the first step is remembering it's very not only sent in human history it's a little aberrant right if you teacher if you want to learn how to play tennis human time the different things you have to do like an hour we're going to learn backhand and another hour we're going to learn serve and then tomorrow we're going to start over again you know it's very odd we've got a very artificially structured view of what learning and attention is it's not just school later it's also the workplace I mean again i'm at google so i don't know if you probably don't do this but in my office which is very much an industrial office it was invented basically in 1905 the modern office building gets invented with a corridor with a door i can come into my office i can shut the door behind me i can said shut out all the distractions and then i turn on my computer right there's nothing about the world that comes at me from my computer that is shut out by the door in my corridor but we still live in a world with artificial institutional devices that pretend as if pretend the partitions haven't changed and a lot of the pundit ria bout about distraction it's precisely based on us the institutions that have set us up for a certain kind of industrial way of thinking that have not changed as fast as we ourselves have changed in 18 years we've all changed I recently talked to a group of people who were all I would say the youngest person in the room was 85 and they said we don't use the internet and I said really if you have something wrong with your Health's do you call your doctor and even the people who couldn't use computer said oh no I asked Bessie and she looked she goes online and she finds out before I talk to my doctor it's like okay there's very few of us whose life has not been changed in the last 15 years our institutions not so much a little slower our pundits not so much a little slower except for Howard who's been guiding guiding all of us for a very long time I'm gonna take a little digression here we powered and I've only known each other for about three years I think we met three years ago but he's really one of the formative people in my thinking so it's such an honor not only to be here at Google but to be able to be here with Howard you know who's really was there way ahead of anybody else well I I give myself permission to be distracted and and had since I was a kid and they probably would have medicated me if they had medication back then but distraction is I don't think anybody thinks of distraction other than a pejorative term housed attractive distraction a good thing I distractions not only a good thing it's a necessary thing it when I start now you see it it's the reason the little gorillas on the covered you all know the famous gorilla experiment the tension blindness experiment some people are not in some art so I'll just explain it very quickly an attention blindness it's a basic structuring of the principle the human brain that means when you're focused on a task means you're not focused on anything else around you so in the attention blindness experiment that was originally done the 1970s by over Aneesa and everyone said this would transform our idea of attention it didn't was reprise din 1999 by a young assistant professor in a graduate student at Harvard dan Simon and Chris Shaw Burris you watch a video they have you watched a video two minutes long of six people passing basketballs back and forth right and you're asked as an audience member is a participant to count how many times the basketball only goes between people who happen to be wearing white the video stops the tester says how many times was the basketball counted some people say twelve sometimes 13 sometimes 14 I happen to see it in a room of distinguished professors and everybody saw 15 basketballs be encounter which is the right number and then the tester says and who saw the gorilla right in normal testing situation sixty percent of the audience does not see the undergraduate at Harvard that they dressed in a gorilla suit they don't see your walk in the middle of the six basketball tossers make a face pounder chest and walk away she's on Cameron nine and a half seconds sixty percent of people don't see it I within a room with Duke distinguished professors hmm I would say they're only two of us in the room that saw the gorilla I'm not any better at seeing the grill with than anyone else in fact I've taken I think every attention test and I always failed them the reason I didn't that day is my office when I was head of R&D for Duke put on the and so I wasn't paying attention to the screen I was distracted I was looking for the caterer I was looking to see that the president had walked in i was watching everything else so I saw the gorilla as weird as it is to be tricked into seeing your own shortcomings and to realize that in the in your accuracy and your determination to count 15 tosses you missed the gorilla it's even weirder to be sitting in a room with 150 200 people none of them are seeing the gorilla so I would say that's the most of two lessons of distraction that are important there one it always happens whatever we're focused on means there's something we're missing so having a system a methodology set up to allow you to disrupt your focus to see and this can be distributed I believe actually it has to require tools partners and methods but it has to the method where you can see your own distraction allows you to see what you've been missing even if your task is important because it's important to count 15 basketballs if that's your task it's also important to see the gorilla right to in terms of institutional change i think the lesson of selective attention and this and the lesson of disruption and distraction is one of those profound institutional lessons ever and that is if everyone all the really smart people in the room think they've got the right answer and there's a crazy girl in the cover who's coroner who's saying wait wait there's a gorilla okay our tendency is to dismiss that person if you're really going to have institutional change you have to have a methodology and I mean that because we won't see it if we don't that's how the brain is structured we will not see it unless we privilege it weenie a methodology that says the outlier voice has to be heard we have to structure a way that the outlier non-consensual voice the distracted disruptive voice can be heard in any situation it's not as easy as it sounds but but there are ways to do it there are lots of practical and practical ways of doing so let's talk about multitasking for for a minute here I'm sure probably everybody here is where the research that Clifton asks did at Stanford very recently in which you tested particularly people who consider themselves to be good multitaskers and and showed that in the kind of toy problems that that social psychologists use with you know red dots and on bluescreens that people really aren't multitasking they are serially task-switching and there's a price to be paid for that task switching and they are less efficient and less productive at the individual tasks which immediately led most of the journalists who described this research to to come out with headlines to the effect that that multitasking doesn't really work people can't really multitask to which I asked what do fighter pilots or chefs do you know a fighter pilot has two aviate navigate communicate and make sure the person behind them is not killing them and to try to kill the person in front of them at the same time to me the interesting question there that I don't think we have an empirical answer to yet is our fighter pilots born that way and they're selected to do that or is there some kind of training that in which people can learn to be more effective okay let's call it serial task switching so what I noticed at some point your book you said that multitasking was the key skill for the 21st century I could explain how that I said because I wanted to be cantankerous because i'm so tired of neuroscientist testing us with little blips on a screen and saying that's multitasking but what a fighter pilot does oreck chef or a new mom who's trying to take a shower but she's got a tiny child dependent on her and she's got to do lots of different things at once this multitasking is part of life in fact the brain doesn't know how to more tamano task if you've read the work of fletcher and more calm out of Cambridge or Rackley out of Washington you they talk about all of them in different using different methods eighty percent of the brains attention issues talking to itself and if you've ever had insomnia you know that right or if you've ever tried meditate right the world would be full of a lot more buddhas if it were easier in a situation of utter undistracted to be totally mindful right in fact it's in a moment when you have no distraction that the mind goes haywire we do see really multitask that's what we do and it's audit moments of great technological change and that includes the invention of writing Socrates thought writing was very very distracting it was also true at the time of the American Revolution the period I originally did wear the same critiques of multitasking they use different words for detention productivity were the words that were used in our come up then at times of new technology we blame technology for our inefficiencies at one point I got frustrated with neuroscience and I said I need to talk to people whose life is invested in attention so they spent a lot of time talking to the people who make prescription the actors and the script writers and the advertisers who make prescription direct 42 TV prescription drug ads right you know the where you have to FDA requires America is only one of the two countries on earth and it's only been since 1984 that we've allowed direct-to-consumer prescription drug ads and part of the allowing of that as the FDA requires the reciting of side effects so I thought well who better to tell me about how you distract an audience and the people who are paid to make the commercial that complete keeps the rule it keeps the look the law but doesn't make you pay attention to them so I talked to them I also talked to insurance adjusters and insurance adjusters take narratives right they don't just have multiple choice tests they take narratives whenever there's an accident and they ask people about their accidents and what the insurance adjusters would say over and over again is yeah if you have a kid who's texting while driving that will increase the number of accidents ease in but if you really want your sixteen-year-old to be safe take the other seats out of the car because it's the other kids in the car that are far more likely far more likely to make that child have an accident than texting we don't even think of talking to other distracting individuals in the car as multitasking why because we've been trained to an idea of individual selective on focus task as that's what a task is anything that disrupts adds multitasking my favorite study that sort of the counter nasara study is a real life study they did this with 700 employees University of Melbourne conducted this test 700 employees all of whom said multitasking is so distracting and I've got facebook and and Twitter and my email and everything's happening if you obviously know it's ruin my productivity and they compared those workers to people who said I hate multitasking my office has none of those distractions and then they crunch that data alongside HR data about who got raises and who the company using its own data felt were the most productive on a yearly basis not on a moment space it's been a yearly basis I bet you can guess the people who are sure multitasking was making them unproductive are the were the ones that got the raises performance and merit raises every year right the ones who said no no I i isolate myself and don't ever allow myself to be a strike it distracted multitasking bad for me tended to be at the very bottom of the HR or HR he some ways it makes sense right because if you're a productive person you're aware of your distractions I also think we all need to come up with more inventories of what works for us and when I was talking to Mimi earlier or before we start talking I'm is like technology my backyard is a Zen garden I lived in Japan several years I've written a travel memoir about living in Japan I meditate and I did I live in sort of semi urban durham north carolina and i have a nasty little backyard i thought wow it doesn't grow anything I'm to turn it into a Zen garden I've got a little tea house back there and it's n garden that is not contradictory the reason I can multitask it says I have a place where I don't do much of anything except let my brain wander all over the place where it wants two different things work for all of us what doesn't work is having pundits tell us what does it work okay or what does work what we have to do is realize we're in an era where we need and have the ability to break out of some of those hundred-year-old conditioning about individual task and think about what works for us what works best for us let's talk about learning for a minute and then we'll open up the Florida to everybody I think it's clear if you think about it that attention is the fundamental particle of learning and as I understand that humans are the only primate who will look where somebody is pointing and in fact human infants very quickly learned to look where their mothers are looking so we learn before we're educated by imitation by paying attention to what others are doing right now we've got this kind of model where you've got these people in the front of the class and they say things and you pay attention to that neither Cathy or I actually use that model in teaching why don't why don't you talk about some of the ways that students are getting excited about learning in ways that are not the tailoress industrial model okay well first of all I start my glasses using a Howard Rheingold pedagogical moment where I tell my students close yourself moans close your laptop's now close your eyes one hundred percent plagiarism with credit from professor Ryan go and what that immediately does it makes my students aware that in the five minutes in the silence and the dark behind their own closed eyelids their mind is all over the place it's not a linear pathway I then I write up a syllabus I've written up a syllabus and each week two students are in charge of the class and they read what's on the syllabus and they decide whether they're going to teach that teach something else or augment what I've done I've done this enough times now that nobody ever ever uses my syllabus and this is your brain on the internet but one thing they do at the beginning of each class is they decide when they're in charge whether the students are going to be using laptops or cell phones or keeping their eyes open or closed during the class and they have to articulate why they're making that choice again this is the idea of relaxing shutting out the pundits in thinking about what we need so they actually say today we're gonna have our laptops open because I want you guys to be Google jockeys right I'm going to be talking about area I don't know very well and i'm going to have things a student might say I'm have things than we're talking about today that I'm not sure about and I'm going to need you to help me we also break out of the classroom we also do things physical we do stuff like and again this is all student-led will spend last semester students had to spend two weeks with uh it was a year and a half ago when Shin way was in town the great Chinese choreographer who choreographed the most recent Olympics he was in residence for two weeks and my students got us as a class invited to be part of his choreography and we act none of us were well most of us were not trained dancers but we actually were part of one of the performances we learned so much about collaboration from that experience and we read about collaboration to but every week the students write blogs it's behind a firewall because not every employer is open-minded about this the students in charge grade those blogs except its contract ratings so everybody knows in advance if they do satisfactory work though they do this much satisfactory worked will get an A if they do this much satisfactory work they'll do a B they contract for the amount of work the students in charge have to decide whether the work is satisfactory or not and everybody gets a second chance to do satisfactory work which means the teachers are constantly working with people whose work they don't think in satisfactory to get it up to a level they think it's satisfactory the next week those two students to teachers are back in the classroom so the process of who is teaching who is leading who's giving feedback whose understanding feedback is part of the structure of this is your brain on the internet in other words very little in the old model of teaching is about understanding how you get better from feedback I'm not a big TV watcher but I'm fascinated by the kind of game quiz shows like American Idol or so you think you can dance where people amateurs become professionals in the course of a summit of one season and take feedback and change because of it and I think one reason though shows is so popular is we're so poor at that as a culture that this gives us examples of how you can actually absorb feedback and change in relationship to feedback because our educational system does that pretty poorly but in this is your brain on the internet feedback is exactly what the class is about the brain is about not my brain but but the tim berners-lee brain Tim berners-lee when he's inventing HTML in the world wide web says no the brain isn't like the mainframe computer my parents worked on in Manchester the brain is open it allows a structure that everybody can contribute to it's constantly changing it's constantly being shaped that's what neural networks are that's what the world wide web is and that's what I try to teach in my classes is how we can think in this a creative iterative iterative collaborative way so why don't we open the floor to questions here speak loudly enough so that I can hear you then I'll repeat it yes I didn't read your book so I'm afraid of something that you address in your book how do you work with like community to design of our communities urban planning and things like that I mean there's the process that you can't you're describing the iterative process of improving works in technology it also really works with cleaning up the environment it works with community design and we saw the communities that sort of one of my old grandstanding things so the question had to do with whether you would thought about applying what you've learned to community design city design I work with a project is part of the MacArthur Foundation called participatory Chinatown which is a project in Boston where people in Chinatown are actually using their own methods to to plan their communities instead of being planned around other kinds of urban renewal I don't talk about that very much in the book although i've blogged about it a lot in the book so i put one of the people i try to profile famous people but i also profile very modest people who are doing extraordinary things and one of them is a developer in Greensboro North Carolina named Dennis quaintance who decided he was going to build he and his wife were walking there two new twins they were in their 40s when they had twins walking them along the river and deciding what if what these kids admire aslam when they grow up and realized he's successful I don't know if he even has a high school education he's a self-taught very impressive man we're successful we're honest we we give back to the community we've never done anything for the environment so Dennis got together the 60 people that were building this 30 million dollar hotel and said what if we tried to make a sustainable hotel and I'll shorten the story here but these are North Carolina builders they have no training in this all they had was a commitment and they learned online how to do this they tried to train the local community the reason it's called the proximity hotel as they realized the most sustainable building would be if they built everything within a 100 mile proximity of the hotel they did this is a community project and the lead people that give out designations through certification started becoming aware of what they were doing instead of following them and when the hotel will Bend they gave this the country's the nation's only platinum a designation for a hotel so I interviewed Dennis and I said Wow what tell us what moral can we bring from this he said it's a tragic moral and it's a happy moral the happy moral is 60 people in greensboro north carolina pulled this off and the tragic Worrell is it wasn't that hard and it's shameful it's shameful that we're the only ones it's shameful why if we could do it why isn't everybody doing it and that's my other message about the outlier in institutions is as long as we think institutions tell us what our task is and that we have to be on task and it's a terrible thing to be distracted and we have to do things on task we're never going to build the world the Americas only platinum LEED hotel we're never going to say what if we relearned everything we did what if we tried it who cares that we don't have the credentials what if we tried it you know I think breaking out of that is the biggest and most important method of distraction and that's why I think multi distraction is our friend yes your question in the back well let's just say I write about two thousand words a day and my friends know I'm writing because that's what I'm tweeting and facebooking and doing everything else actually tension after about three minutes attention cut starts waning five minutes kind of gone 20 minutes forget it it's out the window no one literally you're looking out the window at ed 20 minutes nobody when some of my favorite studies are the ones that glory and marks toes of your industry and how long people can pay attention and you know she says about every three minutes our mind wanders it takes about 20 minutes to return to the original task but about forty-five percent of the time our mind wanders knows from external distractions but because the mind wanders right that's definitionally what the mind does I actually for me and again this is why I think we all need an inventory for me if I'm really concentrating and writing something I need to be able to have my mind wander off the screen a little bit and go to Facebook where I love my Facebook friends they're all sort of funny and upbeat and if I'm feeling a little blocked it inspires me and keeps me back you know back on track that doesn't work for everybody some people need to write in cafes because they need external some distraction some people need to write silently again there's no one method and my suspicions about many of the neuroscientific experiments that are conducted in a laboratory is there conducted in a laboratory in other words those conditions are highly artificial I tend more to like the ones by my friend and colleague and we've been working together lately dan Ariely do you know the book predictably irrational which are often about real-life situations that don't ever unfold the way they think they do including multitasking you know so I yes there are many many in fact is a my original field is English as an English teacher you can recite all the weird ways people have written over the years some needed the smell of rotting apples in their door in their drawer to be able to write some needed some took walks some were cafe writers some are isolated writers some like to be in the busiest systems ever some right in the morning some right at night the only thing that's consistent is knowing yourself well enough to trust your own distractibility and go with it and and follow that and do what's necessary I can't write a word in the afternoon never have been able to never can I'm a pre-dawn writer so I arranged my day so I can write it's actually pretty easy to Ranger today so you can get your writing done pre-dawn but being respectful of what you require for productivity is it's not easy takes a lot of discipline because you're going to get a lot of people telling you that's the bad way and the wrong way to do it but I think that's a single most effective thing we can do and the history of writing actually is a history of baldy eccentric ways people have paid attention so actually I wanted to digress a little bit on the on the hunter and gatherer of business and I'm sure that some of you have heard about the research with with dopamine rewarding people for seeking behavior so obviously this is something that evolutionarily was very helpful for for humans hunting and gathering it's perfect for google hunting for something finding a link following that link finding another one if you're supposed to be doing something else and you've got a deadline then maybe that's quote distraction but maybe that's that's a natural way people learn that just the connection here is hunting and gathering but I'm really interested in the way writing emerged and there's a lot of research that into reading disorders recently that's revealed a lot of interesting information about them stanislas de haines book about reading in the brain heat I'd say hypothesizes two-week award he has are you to a pretty strong theory that where there are demonstrated visual primitives that humans recognize and alphabetic writing is is built on our visual system's ability to very rapidly abstract meaning from primitive symbols and his his speculation is that that comes from walking down the trail seeing a track and being able to judge very quickly whether that's something that's likely to eat us and therefore we should run away or that's something that we might want to eat and should run after these are all examples of exaptation in which the human brain and human culture takes a trait that has been developed in response to one kind of environmental pressure and then builds on a higher level abstraction on it we're we're sitting here on a very tall stack of abstractions a computer being a hierarchy of abstractions and search being a hierarchy of abstractions built on top of that and language and I think you know what what's been missing is an understanding or a meta cognition of what's been going on so I think what I really like about Kathy's book is that it begins to bring our awareness to all of these different factors to distraction and concentration the fact that that selective inattention is necessary for focus I think we simply haven't learned the the rules of attention and when we do maybe we'll be able to learn the alphabet of attention put put sentences together in a better way yeah my only problem with the stanislaus book about the alphabet is that he privileges the alphabet because obviously there's so much of the world that is not an alphabetic way of learning that's still a very complex symbol system but i think that's that's really really an interesting interesting point i'm not going to say his name correctly cheeseman somebody can help me with this CZ i yeah the famous sociologist and his son is a famous new media artist judgment ollie I mean it's a church every yard yes thank you thank you I should know that as somebody who spent a lot of time together in Chicago that used to be required entrance exam to say that name but he talked about below experiences that there's some moments that are so utterly absorbing that we really get into the flow he's got funny ones too one of them is brain surgery conducting it one of those playing chess one of them is dancing to rock music which i think is pretty funny I some people would say video games intense playing of video games would be one of one of them too we're time for me writing is that way we look up and an hour has just gone by and you don't know about it those are wonderful experiences I don't think anyone has shown that there mono tasking experiences though like brain surgeries almost like being a fighter pilot that's a pretty pretty intense experience certainly dancing to rock music is using your body bimodal and bipedal physicality rhythm sound dance body you know they're they're very they are multiple tasks performed in synchrony so the time flies away and again I think those things are useful to just allow us to be a little more introspective about our own habits and get rid of some of the generalizations that I believe we've been trained to for the last hundred and fifty years Susan fascinating all the integrated mind for this train program pathways and our dollars workers your partner Barry has been working with your costumes that yes but they're also learning the skill of pay attention to each other as well as the question is what have I done in my classrooms about how to pay attention not just to each other but to the task well again my stoop classes are student generated so my students come up with all kinds of things one I mean one student it's one thing that anyone can do that's very easy is to just sit where you are don't even turn your head look forward and describe what you see and try to describe everything you see and then look away have other people described see what they what you've written down about describing and seeing how much you missed even in that situation where you're instructed to pay attention to something very minor you know even something that you know like shadows air currents why do we make vision so primary you know all of those things that are that make you mindful about your own mind that that Lake off George Lake off the linguists says that make you reflective about your reflexes right basically multitasking is becoming aware of your own habits because we multitask all the time once we think we're multitasking that means we're suddenly aware that we're doing too many things at once becoming reflective about that reflective about both what we do automatically which can get us into trouble we don't see the gorillas accidents happen within five miles of our house you know all of those things that you all can think about but also how to get control of what your own processes are because of the way selective attention works we don't see what we don't see so experiments another one is closing your eyes and listening to the room and when you close your eyes and listen to the room you hear things that five minutes ago when your eyes were open you had no idea you were hearing right and the longer you listen and often through guided exercises you can do that you know the classic Zen one is to take a raisin and keep it in your mouth for you know some two minutes 5 minutes 10 minutes and keep describing what you're feeling as you're eating that raisin and the more focused you are and the longer the time goes on the more you're aware of different things like in fact how the mount your mouth is correct connected to the bottoms of your feet what you know you can feel that if you get very good at it you can feel that but these are all things that are work a day are trained workaday world make obscure to us so making them visible making our selective attention visit visible making our reflexes were flat being reflective about our reflexes are all things that require methodologies in my organization haystack we have a whole bunch of tricks we use that surprise us out of our own patterns all the time and we use those we meet every two weeks face to face our core organization we always have some tricks that we use one is they're simple we all contribute to the agenda for two weeks on a Google Doc and whoever is responsible for distributing or for the meeting that day somewhere in the agenda writes what am I missing when we come to what are we missing when we come to what are we missing we all pick names out of a hat and the person whose name is called has to talk about what they're missing it's fabulous because you never know if you're going to be on the docket or not so no one's using their laptop because you're going to be called out in front of your peers if you weren't paying attention to the meeting also if the interns in the room and the entrance name is is pulled you can believe you're going to see things that you all missed right because the intern is almost the only one who actually knows what everybody is doing another one is for every one of those two meetings i'm in a huge old tobacco warehouse that's been converted into many many offices them nothing to do with one another Department of Safety the library catalog are is a new media program and MFA program on every week to our two week meeting we invite somebody to come for at the beginning of the meeting for a 20 minute thing we invite them to lunch they come they've never heard about anything before and one of our group will do what we call the idea jam they'll put out an idea for the first time that they've had they'll talk only for three minutes and then the visitor makes a comment about it before any of us does it always leads to an idea that none of us would have had because you can't get out of your own idea you can't get it's very very hard so those are method tool partners disrupt to disrupt us because it's so impossible to disrupt ourselves so I would say multitasking isn't the problem it's it's how hard it is to disrupt ourselves from our patterns is a bigger problem than so called multitasking so becoming aware of how we are deploying our attention is one of the primary goals in my classroom if if you've taught in a classroom these days you know a college classroom that students have their laptops open so many professors are in denial about this some professors ban it of course in in my class I can't do that so one of the goals of the co learners is to come up with a different attention probe every time that will help us simply develop a kind of metacognition of how we're deploying our attention that the to code code teachers last time had this really brilliant exercise which was whenever there two of them whenever one of us puts a writing implement in our left hand put your thumb on the table and it's either you pay attention to the writing implement or you get into the spirit of the discussion or tiny fraction of people are able to do both another another student used up can't remember the name of it there's a a computer game that has a you can create your own levels and there's a character called sackboy and this and so he created a instance of this where Sackboy went through his little adventures and you're watching his adventures but every once in a while there would be something in the background that said if you see this raise your left hand or or stand up another team of rang a gong at random intervals and had people write on red yellow or orange post-its whether they were what they were thinking was directly related to our discussion whether it was tangential to our discussion whether it was completely unrelated and then they put them up on the board and and clustered them it was it's always kind of interesting to see but the the objective is I think the objective of meditation to just create this kind of inner Observer that knows whether you're multitasking or focusing on or what you ought to be doing given your own priorities at the moment I mentioned earlier than I talked to people who did the voiceovers wrote and directed direct-to-consumer prescription drug ads and one of my colleagues that Duke has testified it to Congress about this so she helped me invent something that it was my students that invented it and she helped us with the apparatus which we took a very famous director direct-to-consumer prescription drug ad and added a little drawing of a little be just a cartoon nothing else changed in the ad but a little beat and then afterwards my students asked the room to talk about that there were two one with a control group that saw one ad mom as a control group that saw the moment the little cartoon be and ask students to write down every side effect I remembered the ones that saw the ad with the little cartoon be remembered about 75% less of the side effects than the people with who didn't have the B now most of us didn't even realize there was a little cartoon we didn't remember there was a cartoon be because it seemed irrelevant but in fact that tiny bit of distraction kept us from paying attention to side effects drug companies spend millions of dollars every years to know that stuff about our brains we don't know that stuff about our brain unless we do mindfulness exercises like that that make us aware of our patterns makes a little suspicious whenever things are coming too easily I mean basically I feel like if I'm in a groove and I'm mono testing oh my gosh look out something bad is about to happen or maybe good too but often often it means that I'm not paying enough attention I'm being a little too habitual so we have time for one more question over here wisdom of law yes on the suspect but I've also experienced cool yes what what the flow experiences is never sustainable for a lifetime it's a very it's always definitionally intense it makes times seem to go away but it's pretty short in time it's not something that you sustained more than a relatively short time I have also done that I've done that you know for when I was writing you know novels or place where you know literal I even in writing he was writing this book there was one day where I woke up at three in the morning and so it was three o'clock the next time I was conscious of paying attention o'clock and I thought it was three in the afternoon it was actually three in the morning again I'd gone 24 hours I don't recommend that i was a little nuts by the end of it I couldn't remember eating I couldn't remember leaving my computer I couldn't remember anything and that's one of those moments where it's a good thing so so maybe sometimes not such a good thing right but 16 hours is very short in a human in a span of a human lifetime right so those are rare moments I think it would be argued that those rare moments happen because they're rare that in other words a person who thought they could have flow 24 hours a day for a lifetime might actually be might actually be considered mentally ill right you know I think that that particular kind of concentration is one of the reasons that that people spend a lot of money to go skiing it certainly takes your mind off everything else if you are not thinking about what's happening in the next second and a half you're you're in trouble yes and also why I think despite the importance of technology is really important to learn handwriting and in particular i recommend calligraphy because it forces you to pay attention to the exact moment and the edge of the of the pen where it meets the paper and your breathing all at the same time definitely it's it's not a mistake that some Zen swordsman were also calligraphers it's it's very much a form of mental training so i think we are exactly on the hour mindful of everybody's time thank you so much thank you Cathy thank you you buy the book that's fascinating

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