In the last paragraph of our first reading by Ellen Langer she brings up a scenario where a friend’s seven year old daughter needs CPR after an accident in the pool. She poses the question about whether we would want our training to have been conditionally rather than “mindlessly sequential” and then asked how should we teach CPR? I’m having trouble answering her questions.
Without a doubt, I think the mindful learning as a whole is a great concept. The example she provided about the musicians that were taught “mindfully” performing better and enjoying their practice shows how tasks that are so traditionally rooted in memorization (oh god all those scales… up and down up and down…. now D minor…. up and down) and repetition don’t necessarily have to rely on those two factors.
But, in the case of CPR I think it gets a little muddled. While I’ve never had to perform CPR and hope that I never will, it’s a high stress situation. You essentially have a corpse in front of you, and CPR alone is not going to revive them. Perhaps you’re the only trained person in the vicinity so it’s on you to act as their heart until medical help can arrive. Every step can potentially make a large difference in whether they are able to be revived and also in the quality of life if they are revived. Would small “mindlessly sequential” methodical steps taught absolutely work in this situation? I think so. I think that could help a person work through the stress. There’s a reason they include easy to recall acronyms-ABC airway-breathing-compression.
Now maybe that’s the wrong way to look at it. Maybe Langer is saying that there should be a mindful component to CPR training. She specifies that the young girl is much smaller than your average adult at only 50 lbs. So the mindful component would focus on how hard one would have to push to achieve the proper compression. Maybe there is a mindful addition to the ‘assess the scene’ component. A restaurant is a very different location than a crosswalk. These I will agree should be taught in the CPR class, but I don’t think that they take the place of the small mindless methodical steps.
Maybe a sort of hybrid style would work better in this situation. One that teaches the sequential steps that must be met, but expands upon those steps as well.