Focused Awareness – Mindfulness in Life & Academia
1. the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.“their mindfulness of the wider cinematic tradition”
2. a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.
When I read the title for this topic, it was the second definition that came to mind at first. I am not an expert mediator or anything but I dabble in that mindfulness practice and definitely have seen the benefits. I have found that being mindful of what’s going on in your mind and body can really open your eyes to what is really going on and why.
I enjoyed reading the chapters of Ellen Langer’s book on mindful learning. I had never thought about applying those same concepts to learning and my classroom. We need to move our students from just mindlessly “absorbing” the information to actually thinking about how they are learning and acquiring knowledge. By thinking and being mindful of how our students learn, as well as ourselves, can take our teaching to another level. I’ve actually been reading a lot about metacognition in teaching and trying to learn how to really work these concepts into my teaching in order to help my students move this knowledge from their short-term to long-term memory for future use. I think active learning activities help in this process as well and keep students from just mindlessly memorizing the required information to just get through the class.
I am really loving the Mike Wesch videos. We have a very similar teaching style which I enjoy because for the most part I work with people in engineering who have a very different style. I had so many realizations during the newest video but I’ll save those for the “Authentic Self” week since I skipped ahead in class a little 🙂 He was so right in that we are initially born without fear of failing or learning. When we fall, we get back up and try again – smiling and laughing. At some point in our lives, however, we learn that failure is bad and become afraid of it. If we can become more aware of this fear and maybe even of how we developed this fear, it could change the way we approach learning for both ourselves and our students.
That focus is so important in our everyday life. If we just go through our days without intention, without connection, without reflection, we are can be just absorbing information without context. I think that’s something that is missing in most cases of our lives – reflection and mindfulness. I know they provide me with moments of clarity, understanding, and purpose to what I’m doing, why I’m do things that way, and what that might mean or affect things in the future.