Mindful Learning

Upon reading an excerpt from Ellen Langer’s The Power of Mindful Learning, I was exposed to an interesting concept. Could learning “the basics” until they become almost habitual be a bad thing for students? Langer’s main idea was that rather than answering our students’ questions or teaching them the material, we should provide them with the freedom to ask questions, make hypotheses, and wonder about the world.

At the end of the chapter, Langer used an example of a study book for a test where they essentially changed the text from a statement of fact to a conditional phrase. Basically, they changed the wording from something like this:

Municipal bonds are issued by…”

To this:

In most cases, municipal bonds are issued by…”

Based on the research study that she cited, it seems as though the simple re-wording into conditional formatting gave students the freedom to ask questions, make hypotheses, and wonder because they appeared to perform better on creative applications of the text when tested. So that makes me wonder, could rewording our textbooks allow room for mindful learning? It’s a pretty extreme application, but what if all it took to increase critical thinking levels for our students was to just change our wording when we teach them? How do you think motivation plays into the concept of mindful thinking?

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One Response to Mindful Learning

  1. Becky

    I have been thinking a lot about this since reading this piece last week. I think it is an interesting notion to think about what it might look like to change the wording in text books to consider mindful learning. But, you also touched on how important it might for students to be motivated to learn mindfully. I think some might just not be aware that they are learning any other way than mindfully. Possibly, once some are made aware of how to retain things better, they would most certainly appreciate the new perspective. However, I think that for some, even with a new perspective, there still might be some external factors that are at play that prohibit students from learning. With this being said, I certainly do not see any harm in trying to help students gain a new perspective about literacy and how they acquire it!

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