Developing your own ideas

Published by Lori Pickert on July 4, 2010 at 01:56 PM

Multitasking, in short, is not only not thinking, it impairs your ability to think. Thinking means concentrating on one thing long enough to develop an idea about it. Not learning other people’s ideas, or memorizing a body of information, however much those may sometimes be useful. Developing your own ideas. In short, thinking for yourself. — William Deresiewicz, Solitude and Leadership

7 comments

Comment by Stacey on July 4, 2010 at 03:04 PM

I've been think a lot abut your "slowing down" posts lately and I think this may be one of the cases where we really need to watch our children and use them as models. If they haven't gone through traditional school, like so many of us, they naturally follow things for a long time. It is our job to not be tempted to direct them to jump subjects or dictate what facts they need to know.

Comment by Lori Pickert on July 4, 2010 at 03:25 PM

exactly. you can’t be following your children’s pace and respecting their ideas about what and how to learn if you are super-imposing a structure and a timetable.

we’re always coming from a place of fear when we try to spread things out for coverage (we’d better make sure we’re studying six subjects with equal time and enthusiasm...) and when we try to prod them to pick up the pace a bit (we’re spending too much time on this, we won’t get to everything...).

it takes courage to stop and really let things develop naturally and *see what really happens*. if we’re too busy trying to dictate the path, we don’t get to see where their path would take us. *so often*, it ends up achieving more coverage (folding in other subjects) and traveling so much further (digging in more deeply than you’d think a child would) -- and it does it *authentically*, from their motivation and their deep interest.

Comment by Cristina on July 5, 2010 at 02:33 PM

This applies to the workplace as well as education. My husband is always getting criticized for his inability to multitask. Why is it more respected to be able to do ten things at once poorly than to do one thing well? I believe it starts from that factory mentality of mindless busy work. If you aren't putting much thought into an activity, of course you can do several things at once. And yet it's economical because only one person has to be paid even if he does the work of three. I'm sure it would be even better if we could grow more limbs so we could accomplish even more without thinking! ;o)

Peace and Laughter!

Comment by Sally on July 6, 2010 at 12:51 PM

Great post. So applicable in so many situations--not just children, but "real" life as well.

It seems "multi-tasking" is more of a catch-phrase businesses (and business schools) expected us to buy into 20 years ago as a way of staying more productive.

Productivity certainly doesn't equal creativity.

Comment by Lori Pickert on July 6, 2010 at 03:39 PM

christina, there just seems to be a pervasive belief that busy = productive. not even busy, but busy-*looking*. that's why "supermoms" were those moms who "did it all", right?

high achievers might have a large number of interests and activities, but if they are really good at something, they aren't doing all those things simultaneously. concentration and focus has to be key to craftsmanship.

i remember an article a few years ago talking about how new, young workers expected to be able to listen to their ipods at work .. something that never would have flown before, but now is acceptable. another symptom of multi-tasking/lack of focus?

sally, ooh, nice. productivity doesn't equal creativity. i was just rereading an annie dillard book where she talks about how almost all writers take 2 to 5 years to write a book; she emphasizes that doing important creative work takes a *lot* of time.

re: multi-tasking on the job .. as cristina said, it's expected now that we take on a few more of our downsized coworkers' jobs without complaint .. just write up that memo while you make that call! there'll be a bill coming due for this later .. no way are we doing quality work under these conditions.

Comment by Dawn Suzette on July 8, 2010 at 03:16 AM

Good thoughts Lori.
I think I may have mentioned this before but I don't think our modern conveniences have nessesarily improved our lives on many levels. One must really focus and pick and choose! It is too easy to get caught up in doing too many things that should "just take a minute"... then the day is gone.

Comment by Lori Pickert on July 8, 2010 at 01:02 PM

oh, i agree. (of course. ha!)

there are things that, done slowly and at home by ourselves, give more pleasure and make our lives better. we end up toiling to make money to purchase conveniences, after all. when sometimes we've cheated ourselves out of doing something that would have given us immense enjoyment.

so true, too, re: the "just a minute" things .. the internet is a giant time hole. not that i don't love it or use it often and to good effect, but it can so easily swallow whole hours in gulps.

it's important to make deliberate choices. and so easy to forget!

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