My Take on Mindful Learning

I’m late in reading The Power of Mindful Learning; I know this because I’ve read posts about it on many other unschooling blogs. Well, I’ve finally read it, and it was well worth my time. Ellen Langer, the author, is concise and clear, and I envy her for having a job that allows her to conduct experiments in social psychology.

Two of her conclusions about how we learn struck me, for their simplicity and their reverence for personal experience.

  1. “The most effective way for us to increase our ability to pay attention is to look for the novelty within the stimulus situation . . .” Think about it. For me, it’s most certainly true. The concepts or facts or procedures I really feel I “know” well are those I “learned” in a novel way—usually, in a real-life situation. I developed my proofreading skills working at a small typographer’s shop, where the owner’s two cats had the run of the building, and the walls were filled with literary calendars and posters, the shelves with the completed books we’d all helped bring into the world. The novelty of the place made my experiences there stick. I don’t think it would have been the same in a proofreading class at the local adult school.
  2. “Information that is about ourselves, about the parts of ourselves we really care about, is the easiest to learn.” How well that statement applies to unschoolers. Because our children learn things that they have passion for, their learning process is easier, smoother, more enjoyable. The learner and the thing learned are one; what they learn becomes them. What could be better?

courtesy of Ellen Langer


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