I really enjoyed the GEDI F18 Week 4 prompts on Mindful Learning. Sir Ken Robinson’s TED talk was particularly moving, inspirational, and at times, laugh-out-loud funny. However, I was also saddened by the reminder that the United States’ educational system has many avoidable deficiencies. I just don’t understand why American politicians and some educators continue to promote standardized testing and uniformity in teaching despite there being strong evidence that these methods do not promote mindful learning or a culture of learning.
I found Ellen J. Langer’s article on Mindful Learning (Current Directions in Psychological Science, 9, 2000, 220-223), both informative and relatable to my own experiences with coaching. Langer explains that subjects respond more mindfully to activities that are described as play rather than work (Myth 3). I have also found this to be true when I coach soccer. In fact, I often use this strategy to encourage my players during practices. For example, when working on passing patterns (e.g., player 1 passes to player 2, who passes to 3, who passes to 4), if I describe the activity as a drill, most players will mindlessly go through the passing motions unconcerned with the quality or speed of their passes. However, if I describe the activity as a competition between groups, the players are immediately more attentive; they listen to the instructions, are concerned about the quality of their passes, move the ball more quickly, and are frustrated when their passes are inaccurate. All in all, the players are more focused and determined when they think they are in competition with each other, which translates into them working harder to improve their performance. Thus, the change in the players’ learning experiences is unrelated to the drill itself, but to how the drill is presented to them.
Thinking about what motivates my players also brings me back to our in-class discussion on gamification. I am reminded that in order to promote student learning, every lesson does not need to be presented as a fun game. Rather, the material just needs to be presented in a way that gives the lessons meaning and encourages the students to want to learn. I am looking forward to our class discussion on mindful learning with our guest speaker, Professor Emily Satterwhite.