On Why Mindful learning is the most effective way to teaching and learning

For the last blog post of the semester, we were asked to discuss why mindful learning and teaching is important. To be honest, this is the first time I am hearing those two terms. Having now learned what each of them means and why they are important practices in academia, I am ready to do my best and apply them when I embark on my teaching journey.

Mindful learning is derived from the concept of mindfulness, which is defined by psychologist Ellen J. Langer as “A flexible state of mind in which we are actively engaged in the present, noticing new things and sensitive to context.” Conversely, mindlessness is a state of mind in which one “acts like as an automatons who has been programmed to act according to the sense our behavior made in the past, rather than the present”.

In mindful teaching, instructors are constantly reinventing themselves by trying not to get stuck in past learning methods. In other words, by being mindful, the teacher is able to see how diverse his class is and to tailor his lectures and contents so as to make all students feel included.  By being mindful, teachers are also able to know that they need to update their lectures so as to help students learn skills that make them competitive and prepare them for the job market. Mindful teaching also engages people in what they are learning by using Problem Based or Case Based assignments/projects.  As far as students are concerned, they also need to be mindful learners. Mindful learners know that the knowledge they are acquiring is not applicable in all situations. This is because “facts, whether derived from science or not, are not context-free; their meaning and usefulness depend on the situation.” Being a mindful learner also means that we are using all means and technology at our disposal to stay on top of our classes and learning experience in general.  As such,  with the advent of digital technology, we as students, have the responsibility to develop new learning methods to complement the knowledge we are getting from school. How both teachers and students are willing to seek and understand the best way to apply mindfulness is going to determine how effective mindful learning/teaching will be in a given learning environment.


8 Replies to “On Why Mindful learning is the most effective way to teaching and learning”

  1. I really like this idea of a mindful teacher being one that is really feeling and knowing their class moment to moment. To stop and take stock on who is there, where they come from, what they are bringing to the classroom, and what is the energy the students bring.

  2. The more I have taught, and encountered different sorts of students, the more convinced I am of the principles you outline in your post. Every classroom presents its own challenges and opportunities, and the best teachers I have had have been those that have taught the STUDENTS, rather than just the material.

  3. Reflecting on past and current experiences teaching, I have had to be very mindful this semester with a class I am GAing for. Grades overall were not as high as I expected them to be, and the instructor and myself have to constantly be mindful in how we are helping students learn the material. It is not always easy because students do not learn the same way, so providing variety for students needs has also been a time challenge.

  4. What came first, the mindful learner or the mindful teacher? Can you have one without the other or rather, can one be successful without the other? I agree that that context is everything. Mindful teaching is a way to better understand that context of the environment and the individuality of the students, which both are always changing. Again, being mindful, will guide us to adapt and change our styles and coursework when needed. This is no easy task, so with mindfulness comes the daunting task of (re)consideration and (re)iteration. These two tasks can create a slippery slop down to mindlessness. Being mindful is something that takes practice and effort. Hopefully, with everything we’ve learned in this class, we can all make that effort to support our students and create change in the way we learn and teach.

  5. You inserted the following from Langer (2000): “Facts, whether derived from science or not, are not context-free; their meaning and usefulness depend on the situation” (p. 221). However, you only referenced it with respect to mindful learning. I would argue that it should also be referenced with respect to mindful teaching. Newstetter and Svinicki (2014) note that “each person has a slightly different model that is a combination of all of his or her past experiences and his interpretations of the current situation” (p. 35). Put another way, “[s]tudents connect what they learn to what they already know, interpreting incoming information, and even sensory perception, through the lens of their existing knowledge, beliefs, and assumptions” (Ambrose, Bridges, DiPietro, Lovett, & Norman, 2010, p. 15). Accordingly, instructors must adjust their own practices to the previously constructed knowledge that students bring with them into the classroom.

  6. I like your comment about how mindful learning requires instructors to constantly reinvent themselves. It seems appropriate that this mindfulness prompt was the final prompt for the class blogs, it culminates ideas from PBL/CBL, digital pedagogy, and critical pedagogy. I think your message highlights the relationships between these concepts and also reiterates the importance of diversity and inclusion in the classroom. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Thanks for sharing. I think that being a mindful person either as a teacher or a student is a very effective way to make the most of the time and content in the classroom and outside the classroom. I believe that being mindful should be an essential aspect of our lifestyle and not only for classes we either teach or learn. It helps in making our lives more easier and avoids misunderstanding of many viewpoints that might occur because being mindless. In general, I think that promoting the aspect of mindfulness necessary for building well-minded communities.

  8. Great post! Thank you for sharing your ideas. I think it is not only the teacher’s job to entertain students, but also it is vital to engage them in the learning process. Selecting a style that addresses the needs of diverse students at different learning levels begins with a personal inventory by understanding the context of the environment and the individuality of the students. Indeed, I believe that the self-evaluation of the teacher’s strengths and weaknesses is crucial to apprehend the concept of mindful learner or the mindful teacher. As they develop their teaching styles and integrate them with effective classroom management skills, teachers will learn what works best for their personalities and curriculum.

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