The discipline of noticing by John Mason

As I walked to work this morning, a colleague asked me if I noticed which type of chips were on staff-discount sale in the team room. Suddenly, I could see the image in my mind. It was blue packaging, yellow-orange writing, it’s definitely got something to do with cheese. But until I was asked about it, I would not have any explicit awareness of it.

John Mason explains the usefulness of distinguishing between “ordinary-noticing (perceiving)” and “marking.” I found, in relation to this scenario, that simple perceiving is easily lost from accessible memory because I simply don’t pay attention and that Mason’s right. It is only available when someone reminded me of it.

The next time I entered into our team room, I made sure to properly notice, to mark what is around me. This time, I initiated the conversation in terms of half-eaten pizzas still inside pizza boxes that no one bothered to throw out. In doing so, I was able to access this memory for further reflection and re-construction in the future. I did so by thinking of ways I could tell those who ate from the boxes to perhaps assign someone to throw it away as the team room, without windows, would reek of its junky, delicious smell. Thus, this marking of mine required a higher level of energy and commitment because it required more than just my casual attention.

Like my dad, I have this eccentric magnetism to unintentionally notice things around me. And like the above example, I have to be reminded about the object, person or event to fully realise the extent of my knowledge about it. What I found to be real motivating and challenging is the art of intentionally noticing as Mason explains.

I strive to practice my professional noticing and in the future, record down what I have noticed. I’ve had minimal experience in professional noticing last year in my Writing Media Texts when we tackled the subject of Sound. You would often always find me with my earphones on when on the train home and for my Writing Media Text, I recorded diagetic sound without plugging my earphones in.

Using Mason’s more disciplined approach, and part of my own experiment, I took notice of the sounds I heard without my earphones and with my earphones (no background song/podcast) . Basically, a muted version of the diagetic sounds in the train. I find that this approach helped me in my reading as I am not a good reader when distractive noises permeate my reading air. At the same time, unliked what seemed salient and important at the time of my reading, did not recede into my distant memory as often as it does when I read without earphones on.


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