Dear Parents and Girls,

Girls and their parents will be aware of the changing nature of learning materials; the move away from textbooks towards online resources. This is the way of the world now, with e-books, online applications, online testing and so on. In the future it is likely that students will take exams online. However, the digital revolution has created a challenge: how do you get work done when a plethora of amusements is always just a click away? The tools we use for work and study

– PCs, laptops, mobile phones and tablets, plus the software and websites that we access through those devices – are the same tools that can instantly conjure up distracting and entertaining content. Of course distraction from study is not a new phenomenon (I can recall having a burning desire to tidy my bedroom every time I sat down to do my physics homework) but there has never been a time when so much distraction has been on offer for students. Yet I don’t believe we can shy away from this. It’s not an option nowadays to say we’ll only work with textbooks. And the problem affects us more widely than in education: it is also an issue in most workplaces.

This year the annual Internet productivity survey of 5000 people in the U.S. revealed 55 percent of workers prefer to communicate with their friends over the internet and 68 percent said they have been distracted from completing work by checking emails, browsing the Web, and engaging with social media – an increase of 9 percent from last year.

If we are to prepare students for the world of work, we need to help them learn how to keep focused and avoid distraction. We have a duty to encourage our girls to develop the skill of paying attention and alert them to the danger of losing this ‘gift’ as Brisbane teacher, Alison Carmichael calls it in her excellent article: Paying Attention and the Power of Distraction. The world of technology itself has begun to offer some solutions to online distraction in the form of  apps and other software –  see this articleor talk to our IT team – but here are some other techniques to consider:

  • Start by keeping a log of all the time you spend on the internet each day – be aware of triggers for distraction
  • Plan your homework so that you have a clear sense of what you need to achieve and by when
  • Keep a clean and organized space in which you can work
  • Where possible, download resources you need and turn off the internet
  • Block all social media sites that you know will distract you
  • Build in regular breaks when you can do other things
  • Take advantage of mindfulness sessions in schools
  • Leave your phone in another room when doing schoolwork