WEEK 4: MINDFUL LEARNING

In reviewing the material for this week I began with the TedTalk by Sir Ken Robinson. His interpretation of the no child left behind law and the comparison to other European education systems was insightful, and listening to his discussion resonates with other critiques of the standardized testing approach used in the USA.  I certainly agree with most of his points, that our current approach to the educational system can be improved and that those in the education system need to be considered in a higher regard. What hit me the strongest was his identification of the three things that humans need to flourish that the educational system contradicts with standardization; that we as humans are,

  1. Naturally different and diverse
  2. Naturally curios (Natural learners)
  3. Creative

I think we as future professors have a responsibility to understand these characteristics and be able to identify methods in which students can learn the material. One of the points I took away, is that we can teach all we want, but if there is no learning happening then we are not meeting our objective. One of my favorite quotes was Sir Ken Robinson’s statement that Education is not a mechanical system its a human system. And in an In an organic system, life/learning is inevitable under the right conditions.

In A New Culture of Learning CULTIVATING THE  IMAGINATION FOR A WORLD  OF CONSTANT CHANGE By Douglas Thomas, the embracing change chapter was in my opinion very accurate. In the discipline of Civil Engineering, I feel that we are now more than ever required to become multidisciplinary to not-only solve current issues but also be more efficient in solving traditional problems. For example, the field of transportation engineering is seeing a significant change in adapting to new available technologies and preparing or anticipated future technologies. Thus adapting to and understanding the constructs of new technologies that will soon be available requires an understanding of the discipline that are generating them. In my opinion, for transportation engineers to remain relevant in the incoming future we must have a strong understanding of our own discipline, but also in the multidisciplinary, open minded and remain informed of the fields of electrical, computer, mechanical, statistical and machine learning fields. In my opinion having the ability to be open minded to change certainly opens up many opportunities and abilities to pick up new skills useful for your current discipline and make yourself of higher value to the organization that you represent.

The paper by Dr. Langer, brought forth the idea of mindfulness. I certainly agree that being mindful at the task at hand is necessary for learning and also for work tasks or general tasks. If we are not mindful, we may not even be able recall taking part in whatever task or action we were involved in. Personally, I feel that we need to balance our day between mindful and mindless activities. In a research setting, mindfulness is extremely important as we are in what I refer to as sponge mode, aware of what we are reading and truly trying to understand what we are involved with. Mindlessness is also nice when a repetitive task is being taken on, or during a leisure activity or exercise and just gives your brain some time to relax.

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6 thoughts on “WEEK 4: MINDFUL LEARNING

  1. I enjoy your blog.
    I would like to talk more about Ken Robinson’s Tedtalk. The standardized testing approach is used for short-term motivation and fair evaluation through testing. In fact, subjective assessment is sometimes more dangerous. Countries with a high desire for education need a fair system and they inevitably use the testing approach. I want to find a new educational system that is fair and creative. Do you think that a fair education system is possible for all students while being a human system?

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  2. Hey Tony,
    I enjoyed reading your post — thanks for sharing. From a personal viewpoint, I definitely get the idea of using mindless activities to give the brain a chance to rest. Certainly an intensive academic environment, finding some time to check out and not think can be cathartic. However, I think Langer brings up a good point by suggesting that all learning should be mindful, and that thinking otherwise may in fact be a product of our own educational conditioning (Mindful Learning pg. 223). If I am honest with myself regarding my own experiences being mindless, I’m not sure if such episodes actually do anything tangible to benefit my mind. In fact, sometimes it’s harder to get back into being mindful after I’ve checked out for a while. This could support the idea that the more frequently we engage in mindful learning, the easier it is to both initiate and maintain.

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  3. Hey Antonio-& Carter!

    I appreciated your post this week Antonio, I liked your emphasis on learning happening under the right conditions. I agree that is something educators can plan for. Also the part about how it is a professor’s responsibility to stay on top of the best contemporary practices in teaching and learning resonated with me, too.

    The thread here with Carter is an interesting discussion about mindfulness and mindlessness. I agree that we have to find balance for ourselves; and I also think that mindfulness is a skill that can be practiced.

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  4. I also really enjoyed TedTalk by Sir Ken Robinson. However, compared to Chinese education, US education is way better. Can you image that elementary students go to Cram school after school and back home around 8pm or later every day? It is a usual thing in Chinese education.

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  5. Hey Antonio,

    Great post! What particularly caught my attention is the discourse on mindfulness and mindlessness. I totally agree with you that these 2 are both important in their own rights. But, is it really possible to completely separate the two? I feel like there are elements of each at play in the both processes.
    Good day and kindest regards.

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