I Got Such a Dirty Look…

I Got Such a Dirty Look…

Remember the 50s and 60s when classrooms of kids sat in perfect rows, pencils at the ready, eyes glued on the teacher who sagely lectured the captive audience? I do. I was the kid that was never quite in her seat, never quite learning enough, always getting report card comments, “She needs to pay more attention in class,” and, “Not working to her potential”.

I haven’t changed.

I attend a weekly lecture series, and as in childhood days, I was getting little out of it. Last week I quit trying to fit the mold, and chose to listen in a way I knew would work for me. I opened the Wood Puzzle game on my tablet, and, as I knew would happen, I was able to fully concentrate on the lecture. Why? Because a part of my brain was occupied elsewhere. At least that’s how I see it.

If I listen to radio talk shows when I drive and I take in what I hear. If I play my Wood Puzzle game while watching documentaries, the information registers. For me, I need that added semi-mindless distraction to fully engage with what I’m listening to.

We’ve come to accept this with people who doodle during a meeting or in a lecture. We’re okay with that. Now, please, lets take this acceptance to the next level.

When I left that lecture last week my head was happily filled with interesting new concepts to cogitate on, but my pleasure was dampened by the withering look of an acquaintance who had been sitting behind me, and saw, I presume, what I was doing.


May I present this to those of you who lecture, those of you who preach, those of you who sit beside others who don’t appear to be listening attentively?

Kids who learn in a variety of ways become adults who learn in a variety of ways. Such as:

  • Reading out loud, to both hear and see the information
  • Closing their eyes (not sleeping) to reduce visual distraction
  • Head down on the table to still the body
  • Doodling, or playing games on a mobile device
  • Pacing at the back of the room
  • Laying flat on the stomach (some say this accesses the reptilian brain. Go figure)


For those of us who learn outside the norm, we have to make a choice. Distract the lecturer or preacher, behave the way those around us expect us to behave, or listen in a way that works for us.

Are there others out there like me? What do you need to do when you listen so you can fully hear?



Photo Credits:  href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/29998366@N02/3916313892″;  Neil. Moralee <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/62586117@N05/17040346110″>Edna;  Alan Light <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/42274165@N00/30143496453″>Iowa City;  oggin <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/85755792@N00/11945521824″


When the Bough Breaks

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  • http://www.scrapsofjoy.com Joy

    I often close my eyes if I really want to hear something. But when I’m watching a movie, or a TV program, or even reading a book, I don’t hear anything else. 🙂
    I love that photo at the top, by the way.

    • http://bobbijunior.com Bobbi Junior

      Isn’t it nice to be able to learn the way that’s right for us? And yes, that photo is great. I remember desks like that.

      • Tina M

        i remember desks like that too.
        Lucky you, Bobbi, to be able to drive and think about other things. I can only focus on my driving.

        But yes, there are different learning styles. I am a classic book learner. However, one of my kids is like you, has to be moving to concentrate. When we reviewed our spelling words she marched up and down the room. I sat on the couch and closed my eyes so I couldn’t see her! It drove me mad until I learned about the 5 learning styles. (http://www.learning-styles-online.com/overview/ gives an overview.) I still didn’t believe it until I heard a teacher friend say that she is also a “physical” learner. My poor child but better late than never.
        Praise God He knows us all!

        • Bobbi

          Seems we’re always learning, and not just academically. Now you have grandchildren, you’ll be able to watch to see how they learn, and maybe advocate for them if need be. The joys of being a grandma!

  • Violet Moore

    Definitely doodle, or play on Tablet – stuff that doesn’t require much brainwork. Take notes in church to help keep me focused… Depending on the size of the class I just HAVE to ask a question, or add a comment. Never meaning to disrupt the session – it’s just that I’m so totally involved. Otherwise my mind wanders, I disconnect and wander off someplace in my head. 🙂

    • Bobbi

      I never considered why I always feel I need to contribute to a lecture or ask a question. I think you and I are a lot alike, Violet!

  • Violet Moore

    About the dirty look – what if it was a jealous look? Wishing she was brave enough to be herself?

  • http://ruthlsnyder.com Ruth L. Snyder

    Thanks for sharing, Bobbi. I find myself doing things while listening too. And my kids usually need to be moving to pay attention! I catch myself on the verge of reprimanding my kids way too often.

  • Patricia Anne Elford

    In meetings or lectures, I write a mix of shorthand and brief notes and draw related cartoons or sketches to help keep me focused and remembering.

    As a preacher and presenter, I’m very glad that not everyone learns in the same way as I do because I very much appreciated being able to look at people’s faces, particularly their eyes, rather than the top of their heads.

  • Pam

    I’m one of the boring ones. I have to sit still to listen and learn. Maybe I’m just too uncoordinated to move body parts at the same time!

  • Carol Ritz

    Hi Bobbie!
    You described my 17-year-old grandson (who is living with us this year) to a T!
    He has ADD and seems to learn best when being what the rest of us would call inattentive!

    • Bobbi

      My son’s moved home, too, Carol. Lost his job due to the economy and now he’s going back to school. Assessments and now a tutor, and suddenly he’s learning how he learns, so he’s finally being successful academically.

      We are all so different, and yet in this one area we seem to want everyone to be the same. Silly educators!

  • http://cynthiadawn.net/daybreakaway Cynthia

    I have filled whole colouring books throughout my 3 years of university. I will say, sometimes I do find it really difficult to sit behind someone who I see playing a tablet game. I find myself more focused on their activity than on the lecture. But I’m also the one who has to sit with her back to the TV in a restaurant or I will never be able to pay attention to anything else throughout the whole dinner! I can understand how playing a game can hinder another student from learning in a way that doodling might not. Not to say you shouldn’t do it…

    • Bobbi

      We are all unique, aren’t we? It’s important to try to see through the eyes of each other. You’ve raised a perspective I hadn’t considered, Cynthia. Yes, I guess my tablet game could distract someone. In the future I’ll be sure to sit at the very back (I like it there anyhow!). That should cover that piece.