Awesome Trait #4 – Our battleground. – SCN Encourager 6/13/2013

We wage a daily battle for “time” and “attention.”

Awesome Trait #4 is our common battle against these hefty foes. 

And with our transformational 21st century learning message to promote, we struggle with a mammoth-sized, three-pronged communications challenge.

Targeting our parents and community members is the easy part. Getting them to grant us the time and attention necessary to understand our new message is the toughie.

And we’re part of the problem, too.

We don’t relinquish our time and attention readily, either.

Here’s a perspective well worth your “time.”

Linda Stone is a former executive with Apple and Microsoft.

Her new endeavor – The Attention Project – delves into our behavior in the midst of today’s tech heavy environment.

Apparently, all of “us” and our various uses of… and personal reliances on technology provide intriguing fodder for fascinating research. So much so, that Stone has coined the phrase Continuous Partial Attention to describe all of the different ways we adjust our individual attention levels to fit with a range of settings, goals, and circumstances.

At first, I thought Stone’s ideas about CPA were just going to be a gussied up re-labeling for “selective listening.” Heck, I’m already an expert at this.

But no such luck. Continuous Partial Attention is a new concept – and one that should be included in our understanding and promotion of 21st century learning.

According to Stone, our attention is like our time. It’s something we control – but technology is actually affecting how we do this in new ways.

Here is what Linda Stone wrote on her website. It’s a perspective worth knowing.

The 20th century was all about productivity. Man as machine. Man as faster and more productive. We were so excited by the industrial age. ‘More, faster, more efficiently’ — that was the conversation.

And that was what we measured — on the job and in our own lives. How many things on my list have I done? Our whole conversation was about output and quantity. I believe that the 21st century will be a return to what humans do best –- and this has to do more with engagement and flow, less with output and quantity. We have robots that are going to take over a lot of those ‘more, faster, more efficiently’ jobs.

Given Stone’s relevancy to all that we touch in our roles – education, testing, employment, and the future in general, I think you’ll also appreciate this link to James Fallows interview with Linda Stone taken from “The Atlantic” (mobile edition).  Here’s the short transcript of the Q & A.

Stone’s concept of Continuous Partial Attention makes sense to me – especially its connection to our communication battle for time and attention.

But I probably should keep my fingers crossed and hope my superintendent doesn’t read Stone’s research and come to a different conclusion. This could spell trouble. He might reject this CPA thing outright.

He’s more of a Continuous TOTAL Attention kind of guy.

Tom Page, SCN

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