Friday, June 06, 2008

Waitzkin on the "Multitasking Virus"

I have always thought that one of the values of chess and other games is that they help us practice the art of focused attention. Josh Waitzkin has written about this in his book The Art of Learning (just out in paperback) and returns to the topic in an essay on the "Multitasking Virus in Our Classrooms" which you can read at the USCF site or, better, in its original form in two posts at the Four Hour Workweek blog: "Multitasking and the End of Learning? -- Part One" and "Part Two" -- which include lots of interesting discussion and commentary from readers and blog-master Tim Ferris (author of The 4-Hour Workweek, which is on my summer reading list.)

2 comments:

Christian said...

Great article, well worth reading!. I myself suffer from a lack of focused attention. I am so used to looking at a thousand different things at once online, and being fed 30 seconds snippets on Youtube, that I seem to have lost the ability to stay focused for more than 5 minutes. Immersion has become increasingly difficult, and superficiality is definitely what I experience in my own acquiring of knowledge.

Tom Panelas said...

Josh is really onto something here, and the phemomenon needs more thought and attention. The examples he cites--such as ordering shoes online while an eminent scholar describes to you in detail a horrible massacre--illustrate what the diffusion of attention robs us of with regard to experience, empathy, and understanding. Yet the ability to juggle tasks is so often touted as commendable in a world where there is too much to do and never enough time to do it.

Considering how many teenagers admit to texting while driving suggests that our multitasking mania is also dangerous. There has to be a better way.

BTW, compare Josh's account of his return to the classroom with this:

"A Vision of Students Today"