Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 81.djvu/200

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tention. Drafts of air fluttering a curtain, a door banging, heavy or rapid foot-steps, whistling, singing; above all talking. Here is where students can help each other, by gentlemanly consideration for each other. One's ears are always "at attention" when studying, and everything heard distracts attention to some degree; the only exception is a steady drone or buzz, which becomes unnoticed because of its steady continuance. It is impossible, we admit, to provide absolute silence for the student, but fellow students should minimize as far as in their power all disturbing noises in their houses or dormitories, and the boor who insists on "disturbing the peace" unnecessarily should be given his walking papers; he is the common enemy.

Another cause of distraction is a common one in American student life, and exists just because of his abundance of creature comforts. This is the proneness of the student, or possibly of his well-meaning but misguided mother or sisters, to make his room attractive by means of pictures, by souvenirs on the walls and tables, by bric-à-brac of various kinds scattered about. When to this are added the various mementos of jubilant class-dinners, rushes, midnight raids on street signs, perhaps even a souvenir of a night in jail, need I say how these distract the student's attention from his book. One roving glance, and the family group reminds him of home, that class picture reminds him of his comrades, the flaming poster reminds him of the excitement of his freshman experiences, the policeman's club reminds him of the street row when on a sign-stealing expedition, etc. Need it be said, that, when this unfortunate wight is trying to study, he does not need to be reminded of these things as an aid to concentration, that souvenirs do not help him to keep his attention on his book, and that the more attractive his room is the more it distracts his attention. I do not confound attractiveness with comfort; the latter the student should have, the more the better, but the comforts should be real, unobtrusive ones.

I am simply protesting against that misguided custom which often regards students' rooms as olla podrida, museums of bric-à-brac, proper depositories of any and every object which can remind the student of the glorious life he is leading—and which are all common enemies, to a smaller or greater degree, to that concentration of mind which he most needs, as a student, to cultivate and to possess.

However, the room must have something in it, the walls should not be those of a bare attic, let us admit, and therefore, what is the student to do, when studying? On this head, we have two suggestions to make, which have been tried and found effective. First, when studying by daylight, have the table near the window, so that the light is sideways, and one's back is partly towards the "attractive" room. If the window gives on a, busy street, have the lower half covered by a translucent curtain, to keep the attention from being distracted by happenings outside. If the window looks out on a quiet neighborhood, or