Towards a literacy of attention

  • Thomson S
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Abstract

In 1997, business trend analyst Linda Stone proposed the term "continuous partial attention" to characterise the contemporary experience of wanting to be ‘a live node on the network’. She argued that while it can be a positive and functional behaviour, it also has the potential to be disabling, compromising reflective and creative thought. Subsequent studies have explored the ways in which technology has slowly disrupted the idea and experience of a "centred" and "bounded" self. Studies of ‘Gen Y’ show the ease with which young people accommodate this multiplying of the self as they negotiate their partial friendships and networks of interest with family and work. In teaching and learning circles in tertiary education we talk a lot about problems of student ‘disengagement’. In characterising our challenge this way, are we undermining our potential to understand the tendencies of contemporary learners? This paper begins a consideration of how traditional models, frameworks and practices might oppose these partially engaged but continuously connected and interpersonal "dividuals". What questions does this provoke for learning environments towards harnessing yet counterpointing the crisis students might experience; to recognise but also integrate their multiple selves towards what they aim to become through the process of learning?

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Authors

  • Sheona Thomson

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