The Importance of Being Disconnected

I was lucky enough to be in a closed conference room with a renowned international educational researcher a few weeks ago — there were just 5 of us in the room for a full 90 minutes. It was a rare opportunity to be with one of the big educational thinkers in our world. He was so sharp, had many great insights and caused me to go away thinking about a ton of stuff.

It was an outstanding 90 minutes.

One of the things he mentioned was the importance of social media — in particular, their importance in allowing educators to collaborate when we can’t be physically together. In fact, his professional team was currently working on two new apps that would provide two additional arenas within which to share thoughts, questions and ideas. For him, social media was a breakthrough in being connected and learning from one another.

As with any great conversation, it stimulated some additional thinking beyond our meeting. It got me wondering …

With the reality of communication platforms that surround us, do we spend enough time in isolation thinking about all of these shared thoughts? Do we find the quiet space we need — to make sense of the conversations, to relate them to our own experiences and figure out how we can best utilize the information?

Silence and Being Alone can be the Solution to a Better Understanding

You will sometimes hear me say to others, “I need some time to reflect on this. Give me a few days to mull things over.” I have come to a point in my life where I know I often need more time to process a question or comment before responding. When I don’t have a clear answer to something I need to go away and gather more information, ask others some questions, or perhaps just let it ruminate around in my head for awhile — I need time to be be quiet.

I almost always come up with, what I think, is a better response than I would have if I answered immediately after the problem was posed to me.

I need quiet time to do this.

Some research even suggests that being silent for awhile can result in neuron cell growth in the hippocampus — the area of your brain that plays a pivotal role in short-term , long-term and spatial memories.

Dr. Imke Kirste

To her great surprise, she found that two hours of silence per day prompted cell development in the hippocampus region of the brain.
Regenerative Biologist, Imke Kirste

So, while I am an enthusiastic supporter of collaborating, and think it’s imperative that we continue to find ways to bring teachers and administrators together (both physically and virtually) … I’m also a firm believer in that we all need ‘alone time’.

We need to disconnect from others at times — so that we can sort through our thoughts to build those hippocampus neurons for a deeper, more complete understanding of our complex world.

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