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Maggie Jackson on Distracted: The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age

Maggie Jackson's book, Distracted: The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age, argues that we are in danger of making distraction into a cultural goal. Blogging in The New York Times, Jackson writes:

Should we blame the Blackberry? No. The P.D.A., cellphone and computer did not usher in our hyper-mobile, split-focus, cybercentric culture. Instead, the first high-tech revolutions more than a century ago created new experiences of time and space that have intensified over time. Inventions like the telegraph, cinema, railroad, and airplane shattered distance and upended ancient temporal rhythms. Our age of speed and overload has been building for generations.

But just as we are working toward a green Earth, so we can find ways to create what I like to call “planet focus.” What’s needed is a renaissance of attention—a revaluing and cultivating of the art of attention, to help us cultivate depth of thought and relations in this complex, high-tech time.

We wonder, Can we bend technology in our classrooms toward creating conditions that foster attention and sustained thought? Do we allow for sustained attention or plan for quick bursts of tech-infused effort before the bell rings? What would it take to make our classrooms into "planet focus"?

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