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.