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The Difference Between Attention and Concentration
There is nothing that any human being knows, or can do, that he has not learned. This of course excludes natural body functions, such as breathing, as well as the reflexes, for example the involuntary closing of the eye when an object approaches it. But apart from that a human being knows nothing, or cannot do anything, that he has not learned.
Paying attention is a body function, and therefore does not need to be taught. However, paying attention as such is a function that is quite useless for the act of learning, because it is only a fleeting occurrence. Attention usually shifts very quickly from one object or one thing to the next. The child must first be taught to focus his attention on something and to keep his attention focused on this something for some length of time. When a person focuses his attention for any length of time, we refer to it as concentration. Paying attention therefore, is the body function that makes the skill of concentration possible, just as the functions of seeing and hearing make the skills of looking and listening possible.
Concentration rests on two legs. First, it is an act of will and cannot take place automatically. Second, it is also a skill, and therefore has to be taught.
Although learning disability specialists acknowledge that “the ability to concentrate and attend to a task for a prolonged period of time is essential for the student to receive necessary information and complete certain academic activities,” it seems that the ability to concentrate is regarded as a “fafrotsky” — a word coined by Ivan T. Sanderson, and standing for “Things that FAll FROm The SKY.” Concentration must be taught, after which one's proficiency can be constantly improved by regular and sustained practice.