“It’s only crazy until you do it”

I really enjoyed reading “The Power of Mindful Learning” by Ellen Langer. I think that it is easy to get on “auto pilot” as the article states. We are going through our daily life and we know what we have to do to get from day to day. What I think that gets difficult, is taking the time to create moments of intentionality and questioning, why we do what we do and how can we get out of the autopilot mode. I am the first to admit, I am a creature of habit and that I am very grateful for people that automatically just go against the grain. However, this article really made me think about my practices with my students, and how I can get into autopilot mode and the dangers that possesses.

However, this article made think about the overall concept of learning and it reminded me of the new Nike Ad with Colin Kaepernick. The ad really conveyed the idea that “it’s only crazy until you do it”, really trying to drive home the point that we keep trying to emulate these sports stars, but what we should be doing is imagining ourselves as those sports stars (Nike Ad). In my mind, I saw clear connection with our reading, “The Power of Mindful Learning”. In the reading, it stated that we get so used to just learning or doing what those before us that we do not think of new ways to improve or do it differently. We just see what others have done or are doing, and do it the way they do it. The article really talked about how if we just continue doing the norm, nothing is ever going to progress for the better. The article stated “when faced with something that hasn’t been done before, people frequently express the belief that it can’t be done. All progress, of course, depends on questioning that belief. Everything is the same until it is not”. That we can idly just do the routine, but what we need to do is shake things up so that we give our students room to imagine the possibility of the situation.

I know that incorporating this mindfulness practice is more work and it requires more front planning as educators to not just do the standard lecture or classroom knowledge delivery. However, think of all that we could do if we incorporated more mindfulness into our practice and really tried to not just stick to what we know and to give students a chance to be able to very their approaches—all the new ideas/things that could be achieved. I know that from this reading, I will really try to do more conditional practices in my day to day to work with my students and staff.

10 Replies to ““It’s only crazy until you do it””

  1. Awesome blog post and one that really sparked my own thinking about myself and my role as a TA. Similar to you, I am a creature of habit- routine is my thing and consistency is very much key. However, I think as you noted, when it comes to teaching, getting in the rut of just saying what needs to be said and moving on is not super beneficial to our students. I really appreciate you pointing out this need for mindfulness beyond our own lives, but more importantly into the lives that we directly affect. I will definitely keep this in mind as I continue on in my teaching career!

  2. Thanks for your post! I agree that it is really easy to get on autopilot and practicing mindfulness was one of my biggest goals for the New Year ( can’t really say I’ve achieved it but I am thinking about it). It is easy to see others (be it faculty, or athletes) and think “if I can only be or act like them, then I’ll be successful”, when in reality its really – What helps me succeed? When I take this back to the mindful learning idea – it seems to me that asking students to evaluate what helps them is key and I honestly don’t ever remember being asked that.

  3. I totally agree; new ideas do often seem nuts until more people adopt the change and start to see the benefits. And, interestingly enough, after the change is adopted we often look back and go “I can’t believe that we used to do it that way, what idiots we were!” I do think that we are approaching a larger shift in how lectures are delivered, and it is exciting to be part of that change. We just cannot slide into comfortable passivity and cease to update our teaching methods!

  4. I really enjoyed your post. So thoughtfully written. I too am definitely guilty of being on autopilot. It is easy to carry out the day and approach life and school the way you did the day before. I agree that creating change in how we learn is challenging, but the reward of being more mindful could have big payoffs. This idea of questioning and shifting out of idle mode makes me think about my own work as a PhD student. I am going to try and bring more mindfulness to my day because I think it could foster more innovative ideas with my research. Moving away from the norm will require individuals being more mindful but also an environment that encourages questioning.

  5. I like the sentence “Everything is the same until it is not”. That is so true and you find when you read histories on some areas of study such as agriculture, food science medicine, etc. Earlier people would harvest, eat and maybe dry parts of their produces and keep them. Scientists have come up with food fermentation and food preservation technics by observing some phenomenon that were occurring to their raw material, by trying something based on what they observed, etc.
    By doing that they then keep improving and getting rid of their earlier believes

  6. I enjoyed reading your post. I agree with you that it is easy to get into autopilot mode. Habits could be a safe refuge from failure. However, the ability to look at things from different perspectives could push is to question these habits and transform them into something better. As you highlighted, incorporating mindfulness can be applied to give students a chance to explore and learn from their attempts.

  7. I think it’s easy to fall into autopilot mode because it sometimes seems that the way things have been done in the past is good enough. Those of us who are in graduate school have been successful academically (that’s how we got here) so it’s especially easy to fall into this trap; and especially important for us to keep in mind that people learn in different ways and are best able to demonstrate their knowledge in different ways, which may not fall into the traditional teaching and testing methods we tend to use.

  8. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I agree with you all. I think the issue is our belief in the change. Many of us think making a change in our daily routine would not make any benefits, and thus we just keep repeating what we used to do. And others don’t want to try for something not guaranteed and prefer to stick what they used to do. One step to avoid this starts reading more and educate ourselves about the great impact of the small changes we do on our daily habits.

  9. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I think the issue we resist any change as we don’t like to take any risk! We tend to keep doing things that are already tried and gave us what we want. I believe one step to avoid this is to start believing in the change and its potential impact. Also, we should not look at what we did and didn’t work as a waste of time. Instead, it’s a lesson and one step to the success!

  10. Thanks for the interesting post. As you said, many novel ideas or approaches do not seem feasible at the first sight; that’s why we decide to follow the norm and not to go out of our comfort zone. However, I think each person has its own conditions and imitating ones’ actions do not lead to the same results. As a TA, I try to come up with own teaching styles by considering my skills/personality.

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