Saturday, August 3, 2013

Creating Concentration



“… He becomes absorbed in his own doings with such intense fervor that he becomes oblivious to everything around him and continues his work, repeating his actions consecutively dozen of times. This is that phenomenon of concentration and repetition of an exercise with which is bound up the inner development.  Here, we are dealing with the intimate and secret world which operates within the child” 

The Discovery of the Child, Maria Montessori


Note: Papa Green Bean will use 'he/him', for ease of reading, on this post.

The Most Critical Years For Developing Concentration - Birth to Three


  • The child’s ultimate achievement is to develop the power of concentration. The parent and teacher is the guardian of this right. We must help to bring it forth.
  •  The tendency for repetition is called into being at a very early age, as the child is able to concentrate if allowed to repeat undisturbed. 
    Toddler/ young child development and education
    Papa Green Bean and his good friend, Ruby,
     observing water creatures 
  • Through repetition, the child absorbs human characteristics, and calls into being the tendency toward perfection.
                     _____
  • The adult should provide a suitable environment, with appropriate manipulative materials, for the child’s psychic embryo.
  • Parents should try to grasp the beauty of repeating certain rituals, and understand that the desire to repeat is a human tendency. The child will be tireless with more brilliant and more joyful results at every stage of development.
  • The first right of the child is to choose an activity, which vitally interests him.  Giving the child freedom to choose, results in productive work with intense concentration, and the joyful easy learning of a new skill.
  • The parent should value the importance of the child’s work because it is through his work that the child builds his intellect and forms his personality.
    Multitasked concentration!
  • We should also respect that some children take longer than others.
  • We should encourage and allow children the freedom to repeat an activity. The first use of a material usually only satisfies superficial curiosity. It is the work done during repetition, which draws the child deeply into the activity and produces concentration. 

              Examples:

  • The most precious gift we can give the child is patience, like letting the child eat by himself without correction.
  • Freedom to work as long as one wishes according to his own timing and rhythm should be respected, like allowing a child to play with wooden blocks creating his own structures, unimpeded.
  • We should allow time for repetition, like climbing up and down a sofa or stairs 5, 10, even 15 times consecutively!
  • The real learning takes place without interruption, like when a child become completely absorbed in drawing (colored pencils and blank paper), or working with model clay, or pouring water (different sized cups in the sink), etc. The child becomes radiant, refreshed, and satisfied with a deep feeling of joy that can be termed spiritual.
                                       _____
    • Adults may discourage a child’s absorption in seemingly trivial activities. But such absorption, no matter how ridiculous it may seem to adult sensibilities, help to foster a child’s ability to become totally involved in other, more enriching kinds of learning, later in life.                                          
    • Children from birth to three are unconscious biological time clocks, operating with a power from  within to work with sustained interest, enthusiasm and thoroughness.
    • A child may shed unwelcome characteristics shown before, like pushing, whining, or being timid. Adults should not work against nature, but in accordance with nature.       
    • If left to live wholly in the present, the child will find his most perfect development; and with it the best preparation for the duties of adult life. Maybe he'll become a rocket scientist if left to explore and discover from the time he can crawl! 

    Flow - The Power of Adult Concentration:

    • The adult state of powerful concentration has been termed “flow”.
    • Flow is that marvelous feeling that you are in command of the present and performing at the peak of your ability. 
    • The great athletes (Michael Jordan), musicians (Mozart), scientists (Einstein), inventors (Steve Jobs) all had extraordinary power of 'flow'. 
    • Flow amounts to absolute absorption in an activity. Action flows effortlessly from thought and one feels strong and alert... not self-conscious at all.
    • Time stands still.
      The flow of focus by a baby
    • By honing one’s skills, the challenge may be met with enjoyment, attaining the exquisite feeling of control.
    • One must be faced by a challenge that is not too great for the skills one has to meet it. If one’s skills are too great, boredom will set in, and this is just as bad.
    • To maintain focus, it is necessary to concentrate completely on the present moment. Any concern for failing and looking bad – or succeeding and looking good – will break the concentration.  

                    Conclusion: 

    • Adult’s ability to achieve ‘flow’ may be blocked by early childhood experiences. 
    • By not respecting what children choose to enjoy, parents and teachers may inadvertently hinder the children’s ability to experience ‘flow’ later in life.
    • By providing an environment that lets the child choose and the freedom to stay with the activity, uninterrupted, until that hunger is satisfied, not only is concentration developed more perfectly, but passion more vividly.
    • After a child has been allowed to focus, he feels better, stronger, and calmer because, by means of such concentration, he has been developing his willpower, and he remains this way the rest of his life.  
    Cheers, Papa Green Bean