Mindful Learning: Myths of Learning

This week’s reading focuses on mindful learning. I’ve heard about the concept of mindfulness but never thought about it as it pertains to learning. The introduction of the book The Power of Mindful Learning, states seven myths of learning including:

  1. The basics must be learned so well that they become second nature.
  2. Paying attention means staying focused on one things at a time
  3. Delaying gratification is important
  4. Rote memorization is necessary in education
  5. Forgetting is a problem
  6. Intelligence is knowing “what’s out there?
  7. There are right and wrong answers

Reading these myths, I thought about how they truly do stifle not just mindful learning but learning in general. As someone who has never been a big proponent of school, I often felt stifled in the classroom. Because my mind didn’t seem to function in the same manner as the other students, I always felt ostracized and left out of intellectual spaces. In the workforce however, I found that I learned concepts quickly an was often able to make meaning for myself of certain tasks and policies. As someone pursuing a higher degree of learning, I understand now that often times, the reason why I felt stifled in the classroom is because my teachers and professors were attempting to fit me into a box that I often rebelled against. The 5 myth, “forgetting is a problem” is a learning myth that resonates highly with me because often, I have been taught to study and learn for the test and not so concepts and ideas make sense to me. I needed to put information on a piece of paper to pass the class, who cares if I learned or not. Because my bachelor’s degree is in kinesiology, I often felt ill-prepared when interning in the field (e.g. with cardiac patients, football and volleyball teams, etc.) because I often forgot what I was learning in the classroom. It wasn’t until one of my professors asked me to come to her office hours and we truly talked through the class material and she asked me how would I go about remembering the material for myself did I finally understand that it wasn’t necessarily my fault that I was forgetting the material. It was because I was not allowed to engage in mindful learning and therefore, I cared less about the material and forgot about it upon leaving the classroom space

I can’t say that I have a solution on how to engage in mindful learning in the classroom, but I would say that professors should open up the floor and allow multiple ways for students to grasp ideas and concepts instead of focusing on ¬†one particular avenue. Learning happens in many different ways and as student demographics continue to shift, college and university professors should also be working to shift the classroom culture of learning.

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5 Responses to Mindful Learning: Myths of Learning

  1. Jyotsana Sharma says:

    Thank you for your post Ashley. I think you have brought up some fantastic points. I do believe that teachers and professors most times try to fit people into boxes…it is one of the things that Langer hopes to counter with her book. I think they can work beautifully but I am sure there are fields in which it would take a little more intentionality to make it work like the Kinesiology example you shared with us.

  2. A. Nelson says:

    What an experience, Ashley! Thanks so much for sharing this. I think your example of the senselessness of “learning” kinesiology in a rote (“mindless”) way is really powerful. I’m guessing that if you were to design an instructional experience you would figure out a way to give the students some agency and respond to the material in a way that made its relevance outside the classroom apparent.

  3. Robert H says:

    Thank you for this post. Your ability to learn is exactly that, your ability. My ability to learn is not the same as yours and neither of us should be treated as cookie cutter, prototypical students. Our unique abilities provide our strengths and if engaged properly, could lead to better comprehension and not just rote memorization. As I read your post, I thought of a book that critiques ways academics, specifically in the humanities, speak and write. The book, “Fooled by Randomness”, discusses how the use of obtuse language gives appearance of intelligence. To exemplify this argument, the author provides passages of very thought provoking statements. After reading these passages, the reader is notified the passages were created by a computer. The randomization of big words to give appearance of human intelligence. The reason for my thought when reading your post is this, in feeling stifled in the classroom, you and I were subjected to accepted forms of communication or teaching styles. I am not saying I or you are not intelligent enough to understand the terminology within our fields but rather that each person’s learning experience is based on that person. The use of obtuse language and standardized vernacular and style does leave students behind. I am thankful you shared your story as there are many who have, are, and will feel the same way when sitting in a classroom.

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  5. CorlH says:

    I agree with all of your comments. I constantly have felt like there was something wrong with me for forgetting. I don’t know how students can be expected to retain so much information, yet be expected to pass everything with flying colors. I don’t think standardized learning also takes into account the personal issues students may be facing in their personal lives. I wish I had, had more instructors that were invested in my learning in secondary education

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