Simone Weil was a political figure of sorts that taught philosophy until she became involved in worker's rights. She labored on a farm and in an auto factory. She escaped Germany's invasion of France, but died of consequences due to her refusal to eat more than what her people were being fed in France. She was Jewish, hence the necessity to escape Germany's invasion of France, but life brought her to Catholicism. In 1942, she wrote an essay about Christian's and their school studies. She writes of attention and how it is truly only given to God during prayer. However, school exercises can command a lower type of attention. Weil believed that through school exercises, students would be able to strengthen their attention to prayer.
Weil believed there were two conditions to the idea that student's work could strengthen the student's attention to God during prayer. The first condition is that students cannot contribute their attention to school studies unless they contribute them equally to all subjects and without any desire to pass tests or get good grades. She contends that without the wish to do the work correctly, the work cannot be approached with true effort. The second condition Weil mentions is that students must revisit each and every task we fail in order to learn and find the origin of our fault. She does say that it is enough to simply wish to be able to do this if it is not possible. Weil talks about how students focus by muscular efforts and this is what makes us tired, not the work we accomplish. Will power has no place in Weil's equation. She brings in the factor of joy in work that would accurately prepare them for spiritual life. True attention is very difficult, especially in our sinful, fragile nature. She points out that if school studies were like this, they would be like sacraments. In like sacraments would be exercises to strengthen our connection with God.
I believe that Weil has many points that humans do not usually take into consideration. It is true that prayer is supposed to be true attention to God, and I find it funny that she assumed we are all able to do that. If we were unable to focus on schoolwork, she had such great faith to believe we still could have 100% attentive eyes on God whilst in prayer. That is a pure faith. I think that in a perfect world, prayer would be our undivided, whole-hearted attention. However, I suspect that this is not true most of the time. I absolutely wish that we as students could focus our attention evenly among all subjects and find joy in all subjects. As a student and as a sinful human being, I can honestly say I do not find joy in all my class subjects and I easily focus on some work compared to others. I would love to live in this situation that Simone Weil wrote of in this essay.