Thinking About Thinking..I’m Tired Already

In how people learn, teaching, test anxiety on February 19, 2012 at 5:57 pm

Have you ever focused on something so much that time seemed to stand still? And when you finished, you looked up and a great deal of time had passed?That’s happened when I’ve had a good meditation session or when I’m reading or writing something that requires a great deal of thought.

According to Margaret Moore, (as quoted in this article: Life’s Messy. Train Your Brain to Adapt) co-director of the Institute of Coaching,

“When you can focus all of your brain on one thing, that’s when you’re at your best…”You’re integrating all your brain. But it also consumes a huge amount of resources. You get tired. That’s really how the brain learns—when the brain is learning, it’s laying down new networks. The brain is changing when we focus. It takes a lot of energy, and when it’s depleted it isn’t able to manage the emotional brain. When your pre frontal cortex is depleted, your emotions rule all day”

In the Life’s Messy article, the author summarizes Moore’s approach by describing stress as a positive and strong emotion that is not always negative, but that can be used to help re-train the brain toBrain think and to try to bring order and organization from chaos. Moore recommends that we use stress to ask ourselves questions that could lead to re-organization. She gives the example of question such as “‘is this an error message? Or is this something I really need to pay attention to?’” Moore continues by proposing that we can re-train our brains by building willpower, motivation and confidence.

So Test Anxiety s a Good Thing?

So what does that mean? As a teacher, certain situations create more stress for students than others. Tests, especially the traditional closed-book, closed notes tests, create a great deal of stress for students. So, is this author suggesting that those stressful test situations are good? Apparently, it is the body’s way of getting attention and to the extent that that attention can be properly focused (i.e. to prepare properly), then perhaps test anxiety isn’t all bad. The key is to assist test takers to focus that stress on productive study techniques.

Or does all that concentrating just wear us out (but that’s a good thing, because we do our best work when we focus….and experience stress)?!


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