The Power of Mindful Learning

Topics: Memory, Rote learning, Skill Pages: 5 (1866 words) Published: November 8, 2014

The Power of Mindful Learning

In this book, The Power of Mindful Learning, author Ellen Langer conveys the theory of mindful learning and its implications for education, wherever it takes place - like in school, on the job, in the home and it clearly expresses in nonacademic manner.

Mindful learning involves "openness to novelty; alertness to distinction; sensitivity to different contexts; implicit, if not explicit, awareness of multiple perspectives; and orientation in the present."

Certain myths and fairy tales help advance a culture by passing on a profound and complex wisdom to succeeding generations. Others, however, deserve to be questioned. This book is about seven pervasive myths, or mindsets, that undermine the process of learning and how we can avoid their debilitating effects in a wide variety of settings. The book states the myths of conventional learning: The basics must be learned so well that they become second nature. Paying attention means staying focused on one thing at a time. Delaying gratification is important.

Rote memorization is necessary in education.
Forgetting is a problem.
Intelligence is to know "what's out there."
There are right and wrong answers.

"A mindful approach to any activity has three characteristics: The continuous creation of new categories,
Openness to new information, and
An implicit awareness of more than one perspective.

The concept of mindfulness revolves around certain psychological states that are really different versions of the same thing: 1. Openness to the novelty
2. Alertness to distinction
3. Sensitivity to different contexts
4. Implicit if not explicit awareness of multiple perspectives 5. Orientation in the present

Author talks about different strategies to achieve the mindfulness:

Overlearned skills:
The way information is learned will determine how, why and where it is used. Most of us are not taught our skills, whether academic, athletic or artistic, by real experts. The rules we are given to practice are based on generally accepted truths about how to perform the task and not on our individual abilities. If we learn the basics but do not overlearn them, we can vary them as we change or as the situation changes.

Value of Doubt:
When people overlearn a task so that they can perform it by rote, the individual steps that make up the skill come together into larger and larger units. As a consequence, the small components of the activity are essentially lost, yet it is by adjusting and varying these pieces that we can improve our performance.

Sideways Learning:
It makes it possible to create unlimited categories and distinctions to differentiate one task from another, but it is essential to mobilizing mindfulness. An awareness of alternatives at the early stages of learning a skill gives a conditional quality to the learning, which again, increases mindfulness.

Creative Distraction:
The most effective way to increase our ability to pay attention is to look for the novelty within the stimulus situation, whether it is a story, a map, or a painting, This is the most useful lesson to teach our children, because it enables them to be relatively independent of other people and of their physical environment.

Creating work into play:
Mindful engagement not only increases liking for words and objects, but it also increases liking for people. Virtually any task can be made pleasurable if we approach it with a different attitude. If we have long held a mindset that a particular activity is arduous, changing to a mindful attitude may be difficult, but the difficulty stems from the mindset and not the activity.

The Hazards of rote memory:
Memorizing is a strategy for taking in material that has no personal meaning. But mindful learning helps making the information relevant which can remove the necessity for memorization.

A New Look at Forgetting:
Forgetting provokes mindfulness, Memorizing keeps us in the past; forgetting...
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