Specialist SEN Solicitor
24th January 2022
In this week's SEN Update (apart from my: 'Thought Of The Week'), you will find sections entitled:
I know how busy everyone always is, so please feel free just to read the sections that are of interest to you or read everything; the choice is always yours.
THOUGHT OF THE WEEK
A lot of people talk about ‘multi-tasking’, both in a good and bad way. Today, I want to talk about this a bit and, as ever, try to get you to see things from a slightly different perspective.
Some people say that there is no such thing as ‘multi-tasking’ and then like to point out that, according to scientific studies, you can theoretically only do one thing properly at one time. Others like to argue though that ‘multi-tasking’ is actually their practical reality everyday and something that they always have to do to just keep things going and keep all their plates spinning in the air (think of a circus performer).
Personally, I have found that, actually, both of these things are true, but also neither are true - another paradox I am afraid!
In reality, multi-tasking is really just task-switching, as I agree that you can usually only do one thing well at once. But I have also found that, both theoretically and practically, you can actually also do two things at once, by focusing on doing one thing actively in the foreground and by also doing another thing passively in the background.
For example, you can both ‘listen’ and ‘hear’ at the same time, by ‘listening’ actively to something in the foreground, but ‘hearing’ more passively in the background to what is going on around you. Of course, you can always then switch your attention to something in the background and bring it to the foreground, if necessary. In fact, I think that we unconsciously and naturally do this all the time.
Think of listening to music passively in the background, whilst doing something actively in the foreground. Or, as parents of young children often say, focusing on doing something actively in the foreground, whilst still listening to their children passively in the background, to ensure that they are alright. In fact, this principle also applies more generally, if you are walking, running or doing something outdoors.
Another example, and maybe one of the best ways to illustrate this principle, is to carefully watch a martial artist, who seems to be successfully fighting six people simultaneously. When you really look at them though, they are actually only fighting one person at a time so, effectively, only doing one thing well at once. However, our brain then tricks us into thinking that they are fighting everyone at the same time.
Unfortunately, this is also the same brain that tricks us into believing that we can also do more than one thing at once. This is not really so. In fact, I often like to joke that, whilst some people say that they can multi-task well, they actually may sometimes not do everything that they are doing as well as they can, or they may just start a lot of things but then not properly finish them!
I have also found that, practically, whilst you may then think that you should only do one thing at a time to be able to do it as well as you can and then focus all your energies on it, I am afraid that we also live in a practical world, where we often have to do more than one thing at once. Therefore this idea of foreground and background tasking is quite important to try and understand and become used to, if you can.
Think about it, if you only do one thing at a time, you may be able to give it 100% of your focus and energies, whereas if you try to do two things at a time, you may only be able to give them both about 50% each; whereas if you actively do one thing in the foreground, you can still give it 100% and if you do another thing in the background, but have it there ready to switch to if you need to, then it doesn’t take up any more of your focus or energies until it needs to.
If you do follow this idea (you will need to try it a few times before you get it right), you will also end up being able to do two things at once, or do the same thing in half the time. With practice, it almost feels like you are getting yourself more time in your day!
So, this week, try thinking about what I have said above and focusing on just doing one thing at a time actively in the foreground, whilst doing something else more passively in the background - you also may get twice as much done in the same time, or do something in half the time!
Not much to report on in SEN News again this week.
Although one thing caught my eye again - a tweet by the Disabled Children's Partnership (DCP), which stated:
"CountDisabledChildrenIn calls on local councils to invest in the services that disabled children and families deserve as they set their budgets for the next year. Email your council leader http://Bit.ly/DCPCountDisablntDisabledChildrenIn"
In terms of news, here are the articles that I found of interest this week:
Covid in schools: Inquiry launched to find 100,000 pupils absent in England
Masks to stay in many secondary schools despite England rule change
Boris Johnson tells schools in England to end mask-wearing policy
Again, aside from clicking on the relevant links for more information, I would also remind you of the very useful resources and information provided on the following websites:
- Council for Disabled Children
- Special Needs Jungle
I would also highlight again the magazines: SEN Magazine and Autism Eye which are both very helpful to any parents or professionals involved with children/young people with SEN.
With best wishes
P.S. Don’t forget, to ensure that you never miss one, you can get my SEN Updates personally by completing your email details above, or by following me on one of the social media platforms I use (i.e. Twitter/Facebook).
P.P.S. You can also share this SEN Update with others (please only do so if it may be relevant to them) by using one of the icons, usually to the right or at the bottom of this page.