THE key to success is focus; something that I am unable to achieve with any real conviction. It is a character flaw which I accept about myself and am planning to use to my advantage; “I’m sorry I can’t possibly finish that report…I have a focus problem”. I’m thinking of asking my doctor to write me up as a case study, set up a medical focus group as it were, with me as its central protagonist. “This patient is suffering from a severe case of…ooh what lovely flowers…” (Unfortunately my doctor also suffers from a lack of focus). As a society we blame all kinds of problems, flaws and unacceptable behaviour on conditions. Most genuine conditions deserve consideration (such as Dyslexia) and require us to make allowances. Tourettes for example is a syndrome which can adversely affect the sufferer’s life therefore an understanding of its symptoms can alleviate much of the social embarrassment caused (I often wonder if my desire to shout “bum” during theatrical performances is my own mild form of the syndrome.) Most conditions and syndromes can be successfully controlled through knowledge and a heck of a lot of self control and hard work. I always tell my Dyslexic students that having a piece of paper citing their own specific condition is never an excuse to sit back and say “I can’t I’m Dyslexic”, Einstein was probably the most famous Dyslexic and yet his work on time and relativity completely transformed the way scientists perceive the world (and led indirectly to the creation of the Atomic bomb, much to Einstein’s horror). Now if Einstein had sat back on his chair, folded his arms and said, “I didn’t finish my science homework because I’m Dyslexic.” Then where would we be now? (Although that’s probably not a question one should ask in Hiroshima or Nagasaki). Of course when Einstein was a child his teachers probably just thought he was thick or lazy, but my point is that he worked hard to overcome his problems, harder in many cases than his less gifted but more successful classmates.
Hyperactivity is a word much abused in educational and child developmental circles. Drugs exist to quieten the child and control the erratic behaviour. In my teaching I have encountered several children regularly dulled by prescription drugs. In all honesty I do not know what I feel about medical intervention for bad behaviour, I accept that some behaviour is caused by chemical imbalances in the brain (Schizophrenia) but often hyperactive, poorly behaved pupils are just bored and a shift in focus away from teaching to rigid plans and criteria regardless of the learning style of one’s pupils and into a more creative, active learning can have wonderful results. Sometimes a good laugh and shared respect is all that’s needed. And don’t tell the children but some lessons bore me too. Children are naturally curious and that curiosity needs to be fed or they will drift away and lose focus.
So this new condition will be labelled Focal Awareness Deficiency (FAD). Its symptoms will include a slow glazing of the eyes, constant fidgeting, repeated glances towards the door or window and an unbearable desire to run away.
Now where was I?