How teaching can support mindlessness (and another warning about jumping on the neuroscience research train)
Posted Jan 20 2011 12:00am
Although it is over a decade old, this article by Harvard psychologist Ellen Langer reminds us of the role mindfulness (and mindlessness) can play in learning. It also serves as a caveat about jumping mindlessly on the brain research train. Abstract of " Mindful Learning " (Current Directions in Psychological Science) [pdf]:
Mindfulness, achieved without meditation, is discussed with particular reference to learning. Being mindful is the simple act of drawing novel distinctions. It leads us to greater sensitivity to context and perspective, and ultimately to greater control over our lives. When we engage in mindful learning, we avoid forming mind-sets that unnecessarily limit us. Many of our beliefs about learning are mind-sets that have been mindlessly accepted to be true. Consideration is given to some of the consequences that result from a mindful reconsideration of these myths of learning.
Most teaching unintentionally fosters mindlessness. Facts are typically presented as closed packages, without attention to perspective. Scientists know that research results in findings that are probably