The article, “Mindful Learning” by Ellen J. Langer talks about the difference between mindful learning and mindless learning. I definitely agree with her that mindful learners are typically more resourceful of utilizing what they learn in different applications. However, for me when I learn something new I have to be a “mindless” learner first, in order to understand the basics of what I am learning. I have to repetitively drill the new information into my memory. Once I have a grasp of the new information then I can become a mindful learner. A great example of this is that during my undergraduate as an engineering student, I had to keep doing practice problems until they are ingrained into my memory. The demanding curriculum made it very hard for me to stop and think deeper about the problems. I constantly have to memorize the concepts and apply it for the tests, quizzes, and homework. I remember that during those times it was hard for me to ask thought provoking questions in my field of study.
Once I practiced engineering in the industry and came back for my graduate degree. I had the insights to be a mindful student. I was able to relate the theory that I learned in the classroom to the applications that I have seen in the industry and vice versa. Because I have witness the same information from multiple sources, I was able to detect new subtleties that I missed in my undergraduate years. I started to have more thought provoking questions, as well as using the principles that I learned from the classroom and my job to apply it to other areas of my life. A great example of this is that I became fascinated with the culinary world. After being a mindful learner in the culinary arts, I am able to create many intricate dishes. During my experimentation, I had many “failed” dishes. With those failures, I performed a root failure caused analysis using the methods that I learned as a practicing engineer to determine why my dishes failed. From those learnings, I started to implement my understanding of heat transfer, chemical reactions, fluid mechanics, and mechanics from the classroom to achieve the results that I want. This is a prime example of how being a mindful learner allows a student to have a deeper understanding of their field of study. I take my experiences from multiple perspective and develop effective solutions in all aspects of my life.
Additionally, I Googled mindful learning and I found the graphic below. After reading each of the circles, it reminds me of a concept that I constantly try to ingrain in to my students, “active thinking.” In my class, I encourage students to ask questions, and participates in the class discussions. I put many of my students on the spot randomly as you may never know when you need to think on your feet. I encourage them to see multiple perspectives for the issues that they may be facing.