Miguel Panao | Professor and Author

Finding ways to improve scientific writing and academic productivity.

Learning with Solitude

While reading Sherry Turkle’s book “Reclaiming Conversation,” there is a part on solitude. In the beginning, it points to the comments of comedian Louis CK on why he doesn’t let his kids have cell phones. More than what it does to their attention span, we should worry about what it does to their brains and the human ability of solitude.

We want to know so much about the world around us that we run the risk of learning a lot less about ourselves. Solitude is not being alone, but being together with your thoughts.

Solitude is becoming familiar with who you are at a particular moment in time and being comfortable with your presence. Awkwardly, it is the starting point of empathy and the inner ability to put yourself in the skin of the other.

When technology captures our attention for the sake of it, without any other purpose, we begin to seek it as an external reaction to the inner fear of being alone with your thoughts. When we go online, our minds stop wandering, and our thoughts repressed in favor of what others want us to think. And, gradually, the result is the loss of the ability of solitude, empathy, and the inward moments that make us aware of who and where we are.

We don’t have to break from technology, but continuously develop the ability to take a break and learn about ourselves with moments of solitude. It is time to rediscover the learning value of solitude.

About Miguel Panao

I am a Professor at the University of Coimbra in Mechanical Engineering. I am also author of books in the fields of environmental ethics and Science and Religion. From the several research projects, this site is personal and dedicated to the search for the best approaches, tools, techniques to improve scientific productivity.

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