I’ve experienced mindless learning and mindful learning, but didn’t know they each had a name. Langer’s example of arriving at a destination in a car and not remembering the exact trip there is the perfect example, and has happened to me before. So has reading several paragraphs, or pages, and having no recollection of what I read (it happened while reading part of one of Langer’s articles, for full disclosure).
I absolutely do not want my students to drift into midlessness during my class. But I’m sure has happened before and might happen again. It is a challenge with 400 students in one lecture hall. In the past I’ve tried to incorporate humor into my lectures. This is exceptionally hard for me because everyone who knows me will readily admit I am not funny, or if I am it is purely accidental. I’ve tried to add meme’s to my lectures to keep students interested; sometimes it works, sometimes I’ve inadvertantly chosen one that is outdated (more applicable to my age group than theirs).
What I learned most from this weeks’ readings was that simple changes in wording might be more effective than failed attempts at humor or coolness. The idea that facts are relevant from multiple view points (the Christopher Columbus and U.S. Civil War are excellent examples) is something I think I can incorporate into my lectures. I imagine using an interactive tool, like mentimeter (Dean DePauw uses this a lot), could enhance this approach.
Changing readings to the TedTalk from Sir Ken Robinson, I find it ironic (see what I did there?) that it’s a Britain who so succinctly described the problems in the American educational system. We are teaching to the test too much. We are treating each student as if they were the same. I support his approach of increased individualization. As he states, though, that won’t work until there is a paradigm shift in our country about how teachers are perceived and treated. Well before I became a teacher I felt that teachers are as important as, and should be paid as much as, doctors or maybe even professional athletes. My children and I have experienced some of the best and some of the worst teachers there are. If teaching was respected and well paid enough that it was highly competitive, only the best teachers would be hired.
Coming full circle on the readings, if all teachers were of that high caliber, the classroom experience would be much improved. Then I imagine students would rarely, if ever, be mindlessly going through a school day. Perhaps, like Finland, students wouldn’t drop out of school.