We have all been there, exhausted by the focus we need to keep day in and day out. Staring out the window, looking for a little escape.
But what if that staring out of the window is more than just a little relief? What if it is actually giving us the space we need to focus and concentrate on the tasks that still await our attention?
Back in the 1980’s Rachel and Stephen Kaplan starting investigating this. They proposed that this feeling of calm when in nature, or even just observing it, uses effortless attention. The easy attention of the fluttering leaf or bubbling river isn’t intentional; it just catches us. Whereas work and learning are directed attention and takes a lot more effort.
The Kaplan’s proposed the theory that the brain requires effortless attention to restore and allow us to use directed attention. If there is an imbalance, an overbalance of directed attention would lead to mental fatigue and irritable behaviour. Time observing or in nature acts as a salve to this, allowing the brain to reset, leading to better focus in directed attention.
In almost 40 years, this theory has been tested numerous times and upheld.
So, next time you or a child in your care is sat staring out a window, remember that what looks like daydreaming could be the short moment they need to be able to focus on their lessons.
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