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"Attention is self-activity. It is the will acting on the intellect. Attention selects one special field and refuses to be diverted from it. It neglects all else, and returns again and again to the object of special attention. Attention isolates one object from others, and concentrates effort upon it to the exclusion of all other objects. Isaac Newton ascribed his superiority to other men in intellectual power simply to his greater power of attention."*

Kinds of Attention.-I give attention to the rose. I observe its color, its odor, and its structure. I find that I can direct my energies to the mastery of the outer world. We may call this Outer Attention.

1. Outer attention is self attending to external things. Outer attention looks to the world of sense. When the teacher says "Attention!" she usually means "Listen " or "Look." Objective attention, external attention, and outer attention, are synonymous and simply mean self attending to the external world. As the outer world is called the objective world, the self-direction of the mind to outer things is called Objective Attention.

2. Inner attention is self attending to what is going on within. I concentrate my powers upon a problem, upon a composition, upon a desire, upon a choice. This is inner attention. We mean by inner attention, self attending to the inner world. As the inner world is called the subjective world, inner attention is called Subjective Attention.

3. Objective and subjective attention. We fix our minds upon the rainbow. We observe the primary and secondary colors. This is objective attention. Now we study the relations of colors, the

* Dr. W. T. Harris.

laws of combinations, etc. We fix our minds upon our acquisitions and try to discover relations. Self attends to his own products and processes. This is subjective attention.

Physiology of Attention.-The brain and nerves are the physical organism in connection with which the soul works. Instinctively man and brute turn the senseorgan toward the object, the sound, the odor. Prolonged attention exhausts the physical organism. It is physically impossible for children to give close attention for a long period. As the years advance, attention may be prolonged more and more.

Attracted and Purposed Attention.-A loud sound, a brilliant object, or a strong odor excites the sensor organs and attracts attention. Brute attention is chiefly of this nature. The teacher finds it necessary to attract the attention of her young pupils. She finds that new objects, sudden changes, and striking movements arrest attention. But the child soon develops the power of purposed attention. Attracted attention is merely the sensuous arrest of attention. Sensor affections occasion attention.

Reflex and voluntary attention. Reflex action is destitute of will-power. Attention means power of self-direction. Clearly, the expressions, reflex attention and involuntary attention, are unmeaning and misleading.

Growth of Attention.-The idiot is incapable of selfdirection. Because he can not attend, he can not learn. The attracted attention which he seems to give is not concentrated mental effort. Brutes can give a degree of attention, and hence can learn some things. The child begins to notice attractive objects. This is the germ of voluntary attention. We can not fix the period when

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the infant begins to attend. When a few weeks old, it recognizes its nurse. When a few months old, it recognizes many objects, but can hardly be said to attend before the fifth or sixth month. The child learns slowly because he attends feebly and but for a very short time. The boy can learn more rapidly, as he can attend more closely and for a longer time. The welltrained youth can throw his energies into his work for several hours and hence can do much more than the boy. The educated man can do vastly more than the youth because he can concentrate his entire energies for many hours. At twenty, attention is fully active, but

may grow more and more vigorous up to the meridian of life.

These familiar facts indicate the slow but gradual growth of attention, as well as its relation to achievement.


Education of Attention.*-Teaching is the art of promoting human growth. The mother lays the foundation on which the teacher builds. She supplies her little Kindergarten with attractive objects. In a thousand ingenious ways she manages to draw and hold the attention of her budding loved ones. The teacher continues the same line of work. She will spare no effort to win the interested attention of her young pupils. Each exercise will be so conducted as to develop the power and the habit of attention.

Well-directed effort in concentrating the mind upon the work in hand develops the power of attention. You try to give your entire attention for a short time daily to some subject. In a few months you find that you can attend more closely and for a longer time. When you can attend completely, your power of attention is educated.

Attention and Learning.-The drill will not penetrate the granite unless kept to the work hour after hour. The mind will not penetrate the secrets of science unless held long and vigorously to the work in hand. Agassiz insisted on a radical reform in all our systems of education. His students came to him so deficient in the power of penetrating observation that they could not learn science until educated to observe. This great naturalist considered the development of attention as paramount in education. Dickens considered his power of attention the secret of all his achievements. Hard work fosters genius; but only well-directed and persistent effort counts. The sun's rays burn only when concentrated. Self achieves mastery only when he hurls all

*See "Applied Psychology"; also, Sully's "Psychology."

his forces upon one point.

"Scatter-brained" rough

ly characterizes the large class of half-idiots who can not learn because they can not give close and continued attention. Who has sinned-these stupid pupils, or their more stupid teachers?

Attention and Retention. Good memory means close and continued attention. You become intensely interested in your history lesson; you bend all your powers to its mastery. You close your eyes and think it over. You fix your mind on the facts in their relations. You in this way deeply impress the lesson upon your memory, and you will be able to recall it readily. When there is slight attention, as in revery or half-study, the slight impressions speedily fade away. Attending is work. Lazy persons have poor memories because they are too indolent to give attention. As a rule, interested attention and good memory go together.

Attention and Power.*- No element of personal power is greater or more potent than specialization. No man can be so much of a man, in any one direction, as when he is a whole man in that direction. He who can concentrate his whole being, all his energies and all his capabilities, for the compassing of the one thing on which his mind is fixed for the time being, is obviously more potent in behalf of that object of his endeavor than would be possible were his energies divided, and were only a portion of himself given up to that for which he is striving. And this power of concentration it is, that makes the man of pre-eminent practical efficiency in any and every sphere of human endeavor

* Trumbull.

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