After teaching in classrooms of children from 7 to 15 years old, an understanding has finally gelled. At very young ages, children see important adults such as teachers in sharp focus, while their friends are somewhat fuzzy. As they grow older, adults become blurry while their friends come into greater focus. Thus, in 2nd grade, the teacher is the center of attention and children only half-way listen to their friends. They talk to their friends but are likely to interrupt or walk away while their friends talk to them. But, if a teacher enters a large crowd of young teenagers, that teacher is nearly invisible to them, while their friends occupy all of their attention. Perfectly nice 13-year-olds will generally not respond or even grant eye contact to teachers who greet them in the hallway. This process continues so that any object that is not an 18-year-old’s friend, or a device with which to contact a friend, fades out completely. That is why college students will walk across the street completely oblivious to traffic, which has become invisible to them (unless the cars are driven by their friends).
Other factors predictably determine how we perceive the world. For example: Read the rest of this entry »