I learned something today (or maybe relearned something I already knew), while walking around searching for an image to go with “duality,” my TSI word of the day. (Explanation here; photo here.)

It seems the more I pay attention to a single concept, the more focussed I am on trying to see something such as “duality,” the more open I am to everything. Walking around, alert for “duality” or “pink” or any of the words I have shot, I find that I’m alert to much more of my surroundings than I might normally be. I don’t just see “pink,” I see, it seems to me, almost everything.

This is likely not the case for everyone. I seem to remember reading about the concept of “screeners” some time back. If I have it correctly, some people are “high screeners,” who have the ability to focus hard on one thing (one of the senses, for instance) but at the expense of other things (such as input from the other senses). “Low screeners” are able to attend to several things at once.

If there’s anything to that, it could be that for me that by counciously focussing on one aspect of my surroundings, I am subcounsciously bringing my attention bear on the whole environment.

I’m not going to file this under Profound Truths Revealed, but it seems to me this may have some implications for my students. Some of them — a majority — seem to have major problems identifying potential stories, so much so that they’ve been known to walk past other students pushing petitions in their faces without thinking to stop and ask what’s going on. (Or, in some cases, even noticing they have walked by students with petitions.)

The strategy of opening yourself up by closing down your focus may be something that can help some of them out.

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