Now you see it : how the brain science of attention will transform the way we live, work, and learn

by Cathy N. Davidson

Hardcover, 2011





New York : Viking, 2011.


Documents a 2003 experiment at Duke University where the author had free iPods issued to the freshman class to see how the device could be used academically, in a report that reveals other technological ideas that are revolutionizing education.

User reviews

LibraryThing member otterpopmusic
Halfway through this book I would have given it 4 stars, but then I got to the section on work, which is frustratingly utopian.
LibraryThing member paulsignorelli
Cathy Davidson is an engaging, thoughtful, and thought-provoking writer; she also is a justifiably admired educator (former vice provost for interdisciplinary studies at Duke University) who clearly puts her attention on the learners she serves. And she has plenty to teach all trainer-teacher-learners about what we're doing right as well as what we're failing miserably to achieve. Her goal, she tells us right up front in "Now You See It," is to provide "a positive, practical, and even hopeful story about attention in our digital age" by exposing us to "research in brain science, education, and workplace psychology to find the best ways to learn and change in challenging times" (p. 6). And she delivers. Convincingly. Starting with a summary of an experiment that shows how much we miss around us by focusing too closely on certain details because we have learned to block out the overwhelming amount of stimulation that routinely comes our way, Davidson suggests that our learning process needs to include at least three steps: learning, unlearning, and relearning--and the sort of collaboration that allows us to rely on others to help us see what we otherwise would miss. We travel with Davidson through studies of how gaming can effectively be used in learning. How engaging learners in the learning process by making them partners recreates the learning experience to produce tremendously positive results. And there are also wonderful stories illustrating the difference in attitudes between young learners in a failing magnet school and those in a demographically similar school that "exemplifies the best in public education" (p. 97). Those of us who take the time to read--and reread--what she offers in "Now You See It," giving it the attention it deserves, may be able to help others past those feelings of loss and deficit and failure. And help ourselves as well.… (more)
LibraryThing member lauriebrown54
This is a very interesting book, but I feel the title is a little misleading. It’s not so much that brain science will transform how we do things; it’s more that technology will. In a world where the boundaries between work and personal life have been broken down by constant email, texts, and cell phones; where classrooms have been infiltrated by iPods and homework over the internet; where people all over the world are working to produce the largest, constantly changing, encyclopedia; and where many jobs require skill sets that didn’t even exist 25 years ago, the way people are educated has to change. That seemed to me to be the main thrust of the book.

This is not the first time that technology has changed the way people learned and thought. The steam powered press and machine made ink and paper put books and magazines into the hands of the middle class for the first time. Everyday people could learn things that they had no direct physical contact with. This was a revolution in education.

The education system we use today was designed near the start of the machine age, an age of factories that created identical things, and wanted workers who behaved in identical ways. That’s not the way the world works today. In a lot of jobs, people need the ability to create, not do the same task over and over again- although these are higher paying jobs for the college educated, not the McJobs that so many of us are stuck in; the author is dealing with ‘thinking’ jobs in this book, not service jobs. Davidson believes that the schools must change to make education fun and interesting for the students; children usually feel that ‘learning’ is unpleasant when asked about it, but will happily learn from a video game, and in fact deny that they were learning from it. The author also feels that many of the children diagnosed with ADHD are simply not being taught things that interest them, and are far from hopeless in the classroom- provided the classroom changes to meet their needs. She’s not denying the need for learning basic skills- reading, writing, math- but feels these things need to be taught differently. Sadly, in an era where funding for schools is being cut back, I don’t see that these changes will take place in the near future.

She also points out that our beliefs changes how we perceive things; the student that we feel has ADHD and should be medicated if we see them in a reading class we might think was a genius if we see them first in an art class; memory lapses are ignored when young people make them but are seen as signs of dementia when someone over 45 has them. We need to become more aware of our preset beliefs to see things as they really are.

I think it’s a valuable book for educators and business managers, but a lot of changes- expensive ones in some cases- will have to be made for her ideas to be made real. I think that will be very slow in coming.
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LibraryThing member jasonli
Don't be fooled by the cheeky title. In "Now You See It" Davidson manages to bridge research from neuroscience, education and business together to create a truly unique explanation for how our brains are changing in the post-internet age and how our schools and workplaces are slowly (and they are very slow) catching up.

Davidson writes with a cheerful optimism and effortlessly fuses personal anecdotes and academic research to make "Now You See It" an easy read. At the same time, she covers many topics through many disciplines and is careful never to jump to easy conclusions. Recommended.… (more)
LibraryThing member ehousewright
This book makes a strong case for collaboration and diversity if you want to see a big picture. I've seen this to be true in both work and social situations. Some things I’m thinking about as a result of reading it:
• Sometimes “pilot” can be just a label you give a project when you want a soft launch—might be better to leave expectations more open so that you won’t overlook unanticipated findings?
• She has a “strengths based” approach to a happy life, which I agree with. But I wonder if specializing too early, saying “I’m not good at that, interested in that” might cut off options later? Don't most jobs, relationships require that you be out of your comfort zone some of the time?
• Everyone needs to think "how can I jolt myself out of my routines so that I might see other options, areas for growth based on new technologies and opportunities?"
• Many of her examples of good environments for learning and working seem to come down to having truly engaged teachers and bosses—the exact techniques may matter less than just having someone thinking, aware, trying?
• It's a hopeful idea that if you think you are good at something you may actually be better at it than if you don’t. Believing clichés and excuses about getting older actually could make them come true?

• “When you think of learning as something external to yourself, learning becomes a levy—an assessment, not an asset. The assessment no longer matters after the schooling stops. The asset is a resource one draws on for a lifetime. “
• "If there is any word that defines the twentieth century, it might be normative: a defining and enforcing of standards of what counts as correct."

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