There is Nothing Permanent Except Change

When I first heard we would be focusing on mindfulness this week, I was pretty stoked. During the CIDER Conference held at Virginia Tech this past year, I was able to attend a “Mindfulness in the Classroom” session. While I thought we would only be learning about how the presenters implemented mindfulness in their classrooms, attendees actually got to participate in a mindfulness activity themselves. It is amazing what closing your eyes, taking a few deep breaths, and refocusing can do. We, especially as graduate students, are continuously in a state of chaos trying to run around and do all of the things that we do. Sometimes it is even stressful just making it to a class on time. You’ve powerwalked carrying multiple textbooks from one side of campus to the next, hustled up multiple flights of stairs, and then weaseled your way through the aisles of students to find a seat. As soon as you sit down, you’re scrambling to dig through your stuff to find a pen and paper to begin taking notes. Its been an ordeal just to get to class, let alone begin to take in all of the material that is being thrown at you at light speed. Its like we’re programmed to go through the motions rather than genuinely think about and dwell on the information coming our way. Ellen Langer’s Mindful Learning article describes being mindless as when we are governed by rule and routine. I like how she says that if you are aware that you’re mindless, and then you’re no longer being mindless and instead practicing mindfulness. I appreciate professors who spend the first five minutes of class sort of regrouping; reiterating assignment due dates, recapping previous material, or just talking about what is in the news related to the class. This way, it gives students a few moments to wind down and get themselves focused for what is to come.

A New Culture of Learning made me think about change related to knowledge and technology in a completely different way. I never put thought into the fact that there was a period of time where “stability, continuity, and maintaining the status quo” was what was sought after. Nowadays we almost don’t have a choice but to change continuously. Its sink or swim. This article was both enlightening and inspiring. Just because something doesn’t seem cool or novel right now, doesn’t mean that it can’t be in the future. If you have an idea, you should run with it. I’ve also never recognized just how essential learning communities are. Not everything is black and white and I just loved how the authors went into detail about how in an encyclopedia, we don’t get to see the thought behind why something got chosen and something else didn’t’. My previous PI and I would often talk about how published journal articles are such a small snapshot of the entire process of a study. We don’t get to see the details and sometimes they help to tell a much more thorough story. There are both pros and cons to having open information sites. Although Wikipedia tends to sometimes have a negative reputation, when you compare it to a textbook that may be decades old, it actually becomes a lot more appealing. The statement from the article “Making knowledge stable in a changing world is an unwinnable game” really stood out to me. If the world is continuously changing, then knowledge must do the same.

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4 Replies to “There is Nothing Permanent Except Change”

  1. I totally agree with you when you talk about professors that start classes a little differently. Sometimes just jumping straight into the lesson promotes the idea of just trying to get the class over with, an in a sense encourages mindlessness. I find it helpful to be able to take a step back and think about the material from a different perspective in order to absorb the knowledge in a more meaningful way.

  2. Enjoyed reading your post Nicole. I do believe there is value to 20 year old textbooks (I may have saved a few) as well as Wikipedia…I was recently in a class in which we read original articles from people like Jung, Rogers, and Erikson…to understand the depth of a theory, sure that is important…but how we recreated that theory in the classroom and its evolution came from the more recent articles, the socio-economic-political environment and much more. Thinking in dynamic ways is really important in today’s world for sure. After all change is the only permanent thing today, no?!

  3. I really enjoyed reading this post. I too have always liked it when a teacher uses the first few minutes of class to regroup. I had not, however, really thought about it from a psychological standpoint before . It makes me wonder about creating some type of “warm-up routine” that I could use to help focus and prepare myself, or my future students, for learning.

    1. Haha – I like your idea of calling it a “warm-up routine.” That is exactly what it is in my mind. Sometimes I think it is helpful to do something similar every class period so that students can kind of expect what the start of the class will be like as they get situated. Personally, I like to get to my classes a few minutes early, if possible, as it really makes that much of a difference for me mentally when I’m rushed versus when I’ve had a chance to get myself in order.

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