Even with COVID-19 restrictions, we have been having our Assemblies each week with the permitted number of students in the Murray Centre and the rest of the School watching via a live stream (outstandingly produced by Curriculum Leader-Design and Technology Darren McLachlan and his crew). As Assembly is one of the few opportunities to have the Senior School together, it provides a great platform to share messages with the whole student body, a chance to share something from which we can all grow. At a recent Assembly and in a recent eNews, I covered the topic of perceptual filtering. As another step on this scale, we have now covered perceptual blindness or inattentional blindness. It is quite a fascinating phenomenon that we can all suffer from, although some may argue men and teenagers are mostly afflicted by it. Inattentional blindness is when we do not see or perceive something in plain sight due to not paying attention, rather than there being any issue with our actual vision. The failure to see can also be induced when it is impossible to take in all of the stimuli in a given situation.
For teenagers, particularly boys, this may be not seeing something they are looking for, even when it is right in front of them. In some households, this is referred to as a ‘boy look’ or for the adults, a ‘man look’. In other situations stimuli are so common we become blind to them or we simply can’t cope with them. Some students have inattentional blindness when it comes to wearing their uniform well or ensuring their hair is compliant with School Rules and it requires staff to point this out. As a society, we often have inattentional blindness to litter, cigarette butts, anti-social, sexist or even racist behaviour. We may not be able to take in the stimuli, we might feel disempowered and therefore unable to act or we become conditionally unable to perceive it. Having covered this as a behavioural concept, we then looked at how inattentional blindness impacts on first impressions and how we can, almost unwittingly or unknowingly, influence them.
Unfortunately, first impressions are made very quickly, often before any verbal interaction, and while some will stand by their personal accuracy, they can be very inaccurate. Worse still, they can be long-lasting and hard to influence or change. The great thing about first impressions is that we all have the opportunity to control them if we think consciously about them; for example, by wearing our uniforms well or having our hair neatly compliant with the School rules. When we behave in our society in a manner that is commendable, we will not only help overcome poorly made first impressions, we will also reduce our own inattentional blindness by learning to pay attention to detail. Managing these two behaviours will help us all in our lives.
Intercol has commenced this week and the biggest matches of the season will unfold for our sporting teams. An opportunity also exists for us to demonstrate the strength of our amazing School community. I hope that we can overcome inattentional blindness and all present at Intercol, looking resplendent in our School uniform and Westminster supporters’ gear, and make sure we uphold our values and stand by our own code of conduct. That way, we cannot fail to make a great impression on all fronts as the visiting side.
As we are not the host school this year, we will abide by the restrictions that have been communicated to us, which means the indoor competition will have limited on-site viewing opportunities. Even so, I know our School community will be right behind our players even if not able to be present. I will be attending the competition and look forward to joining with our community in full force as a spirited supporter, proud to be seen in the white and green.