Am I giving full attention? This question is the first within our Mission under the Value of Service and one which is central to the educational approach within John Colet. Our practice of Mindfulness and of pausing throughout the day allows the children to focus, become still and centre themselves within the present. They practice letting go of thoughts and emotions tied up with the past while also releasing considerations or judgements of the future.
Holding oneself within the present is not easy and can be fleeting as our minds are quick to be distracted and busy. Like a muscle working on a new activity or task it takes practice over time for this to feel more natural. At school we take a developmental approach to this, whereby the children begin with small steps leading towards more sustained periods of attention.
Much of the information our students (and adults) are presented with outside school these days is surface material. For example the rise of news feeds, memes, headlines, googled facts and blogs within modern communication has fostered the practice of skimming without often taking in the full picture. Fostering mindfulness, being present and giving attention promotes skills which foster deep learning and holistic understanding which remains a critical ability for the future.
A little learning is a dangerous thing;
Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian Spring;
There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain,
And drinking largely sobers us again
Alexander Pope, 1711
The Pierian Spring was the mythical spring of the Muses, a literal fount of wisdom.