Cavett Robert (1907-1997), a lawyer and founder of the National Speakers Association, used to say, “School is never out for the professional.” During the time he was on the national speaking circuit, Cavett sold courses that consisted of workbooks and cassette tapes for people to take home to listen to and study on their own. He and other well-known speakers emphasized the importance of “spaced repetition,” a learning system that encouraged a person to listen to each cassette a minimum of seven times so the material that was covered would become imbedded in the subconscious mind of the listener.
Can you imagine asking any person today to listen to a set of lengthy audio recordings a total of seven times each so he or she could properly learn the material presented? Unfortunately, the trend for learning has been going in the opposite direction for the past 30 years.
You may have heard of the recent purchase by Yahoo.com of the rights to an app that condenses entire articles to no more than a few sentences. The app was created by a 17-year-old boy who was then awarded $30 million by Yahoo. How is it that Yahoo could place such a high value on an app that summarizes the day’s news in a handful of sentences?
One study showed that while our grandparents had an average attention span of 20 minutes, the average attention span of today’s youth is nine seconds. You read that correctly. Nine seconds! But how can anyone be surprised by that statistic when the most common forms of communication have become texting, tweeting, and posting snippets of information on Facebook?
In order to keep people’s attention, we now have to resort to shock and awe. That’s the primary reason the multibillion-dollar entertainment industry is flourishing in this country.
If it is your desire to raise devout Catholic children, you must insist that they learn how to concentrate and study. If Christ were on Earth with us today, I would expect that He would say, “School is never out for the devout Catholic.” He would emphasize the importance of recapturing the intellectual curiosity we were born with, and He would encourage us to develop a deeper thirst for knowledge and understanding.
Fr. John A. Hardon taught that in order to have a basic knowledge of the Catholic faith, a person has to be well-versed in the history and meaning of (1) the Apostles’ Creed, (2) the Commandments, (3) the Sacraments, and (4) prayer.
The Apostles Creed alone is made up of 12 articles, beginning with “I believe in God the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth” and ending with “the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting.” If I showed you some of the questions from Fr. Hardon’s quizzes on each article of the Apostles’ Creed, you would be embarrassed by the number of answers you would get wrong.
School is never out for the devout Catholic.