Learning to Learn – “Absorption”


In the second part of my Learning Skills blogs, I would like to focus in on the power of absorption in children. When children are absorbed, it means they have become so resilient to their surroundings that they become wholly engrossed in what they are doing, they are unaware of the passing of time, they are very difficult to distract and they are completely captured in the pleasure of being rapt and immersed in learning.

We tend to find younger children have a natural capability to be ‘locked on to learning’. I look at our Nursery children here at Foremarke and observe our three year olds able to stay on a task for a good 20 minutes. Unaware of the world around them they are able to block out any distractions, submerge themselves in the art of ‘being busy’ and feed their learning by the strength of pure absorption.

Absorption is about being ‘locked on to learning’. It is another of those innate capacities which, without awareness and encouragement, can diminish and weaken over time. It is not, however, a capacity that can easily be taught; neither can we coax or demand our young learners’ absorption in whatever we may provide for their attention. What we can do is enable them to recognise what it feels like to be ‘lost in learning’ and to appreciate how this state of being helps the learning process. Our very young learners will have little trouble becoming absorbed in those things which they find interesting, enjoyable and exciting, it is the older children where distractions around them can become a barrier to absorption and so teachers see managing distractions as a key capacity in the process of building absorption in learning.

As teachers and also as parents, we need to begin the process of developing habits of concentration by raising awareness of what it actually means to be absorbed and what it feels like in practice. Do you remember those heady times of being absorbed in a good book? When messages didn’t perpetually beep, when emails didn’t need answering immediately or when notifications on Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat didn’t break the equilibrium of immersion and silence? Distractions are everywhere now, and again it is up to us to provide the opportunities for total and complete enthrallment, fascination and wonder in their imaginations and the world of learning.