Mind…. What?

Mindless, Mindlessness, Mindful, Mindfulness… Mind…. What?

I did not know how many words you can create with the word mind. This is the first time that I read all of these at once!!

Over the years, teaching has focused on what professors teach instead of how they teach1. This traditional approach promotes Mindlessness because different perspectives of learning are neglected in the classroom. As Ellen Langer states:

we are stuck in a single drawn distinction from the past

and the reality is that we are in constant change as the philosopher Heraclitus said in his famous quote!

“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.”

Memorization and repetition are not the most suitable approaches to learn. I learn best by understanding and thinking instead of repeating (like a robot) something that I do not understand. Unfortunately, oftentimes, we do not apply what we learned in class. At present, everyone can access the internet and find what the professor is teaching. So, the question is,

How do you add value to the class?

As a professor, we have to motivate students to look at the information given from different perspectives or point of views1. Diversity is everywhere, especially in a classroom. We will have students from different disciplines, socio-economic status, countries, etc.. What a better scenario to promote Mindfulness.

Last week, we were asked how we learn. I took the answers and I created this word cloud to see if we are stuck in the past. Judge for yourself. What do you think?

Teaching by fostering Mindfulness should not be only an approach or idea that you can find on a paper. It should be applied on a regular basis in a class. Engaging students in the classroom is not an easy task but it will help them to see things from a different perspective. They will learn and enjoy the process.


Tomorrow is Here Now

I cannot tell you how many times I have heard someone say “why do we need to do this differently?” or simply avoid change. It is difficult for me to comprehend why anyone would want to continue to do anything the exact same way, day in and day out even if whatever they were doing worked perfectly. Learning is a function of either not knowing something and taking the time and energy to absorb/comprehend it, or making a mistake and then finding a way out whether its a mess or another opportunity that results.  There are times that I wish I didn’t have to struggle so much/long to work my way out of a problem, but looking back those are exactly the times that I revel in my accomplishment and ability to overcome the obstacles that stood in the way. That sounds cliche, and I am not one for quippy aphorisms or platitudes. But I don’t know how else to explain what learning and accomplishment looks like, to me.

In my youth, there was a sentiment that some people were “born before their time” meaning that they were visionaries, able to see around corners where others couldn’t, being able to imagine the future being radically different than the present day, or having such a unique talent, perspective or ability that they were perceived as one-of-a-kind. I don’t hear that phrase very much anymore. And I don’t see the same things being considered as ‘before one’s time’. Instead, the unique person – the visionary – is one who possesses the skills and experiences to deal with situations as they arise with enthusiasm and confidence, seeking innovative ways to solve problems or create solutions because of her/his unique perspective.

I have wrestled with this post most of the week, and have decided to make a list of inspirations from some of the materials to view and read. The Digital media video was truly inspirational: to know that there are so many other adults out in the world attempting to ‘change’ the way change is perceived, and provide children and youth – particularly – different ways of seeing the world they live within just a little differently and inspire them to learn. And Talbert’s article gave me pause to consider what good there might still be in a ‘lecture’ from a different perspective.

Digital Media – New Learners of the 21st Century

Form groups to learn …

Take an active role in order to shape their [learning] experiences…

Don’t sit in front of textbooks

system-based thinking: trial and error

the power and importance of play

tinkering brings thought and action together in some very magical ways

lifelong learning event

Game design (in school) teaches you to attack a complex problem in smaller pieces. It also makes you think on many different levels at once.

How do we get people prepared to learn in the future for things that don’t even exist now, and how do we prepare them to be able to innovate and solve problems and not just know a bunch of facts they can’t use.

A game is just a problem space … you must solve in order to win

Digital media is a tool … we’re learning from it

standards are a baseline …

If a learning system is well-designed, you don’t finish it without the guarantee that you’ve learned …

[we can] build such rich learning systems that they … assess themselves.

We’ve used the term ‘addiction’ to refer to things we don’t value, but they may, in fact,  be valuable to students and young people in their lives.


Digital Youth Network – brings a wide variety of opportunities to youth that may never have the opportunities otherwise.

In the 21st century, kids need passion … because learning requires a lot of practice

If you put opportunities in front of him, he’ll take advantage of it

Digital media … is changing the ecology of reading and writing. Different practices happen. Different types of texts are produced. Kids are doing more reading and writing than they ever did. [They’re just not doing it the same way they did before]

Media work builds on top of traditional literacy: and if a kid hasn’t had art, if they don’t understand color, if they don’t understand shapes and circles, then it’s very hard for them to say ‘we want to do graphic design’

A lot of learning happens outside of the classroom

We know that the learning outside of school matters tremendously in school

Every child has an interest…

[T]he responsibility of libraries, museums, schools, after school programs … is to help kids identify those interests and then … become more advanced … [with an] academic coach.

When you put a phone in their hand and say “look, you’re the photographer. You’re going to be … looking for objects.” Something actually happens. They look more closely …

They are engaged in the process of constructing meaning (not simply receptors of knowledge)  {KgC commentary}

Place-based learning … is mobile. It’s also pervasive in that you have it with you all of the time. Students, an hour later or later that night or over the weekend can continue to do work because they have the mobile device with them.

Removes the barriers [to meaningful learning] of walls, reliance solely on tangible resources, dependence upon ad


ults for providing information, tools and environment {KgC commentary}

The game has them look closer at the objects, have to learn about the objects to communicate information in their scavenger hunts [and] allows them to be more active and take a role in their experience.


There are a whole new set of tools accessible to help bring content to students … and increase your audience.

How do [we] move from the notion of individual expertise to collective expertise? Most of our learning could very well come from the interaction with peers in [our] particular collective[s] … In peer based collaboration you’re both learning and teach

ing. And that sense of having to explain something is often where you discover what you know and don’t know.



The individual student is being empowered … to follow a personal path to learning. [T]hey’re going to feel more confident, they’re going to believe more in the creative process, and they’re going to believe more that they can make a contribution to this world that is positive.

~    , Director Hirshorn Museum of Art

Humans don’t learn from abstractions. They don’t learn from just a bunch of words. They learn from having experiences and then learning how to generalize, eventually, from lots of experiences: find patterns in them and then marry them to words.

~ James Gee

Augmented reality game allows students to get out into their community, learn history from a game-based learning platform and then recognize the built environment and address what the needs may be for re-designing the town to address the desires of the community.

We can imagine a system [of learning] is not just about what job you’re going to have by about making everybody able to participate in society, to have dignity, to be able to innovate …. And then we’re going to have to deal with the problem that society is too smart for some of the jobs, which would b a nice problem to deal with.

An intelligent society where everybody can produce knowledge and collaborate with each other to make a better society would make us much more successful in the long run in the global economy.

~ James Gee


Robert Talbert, “Four Things Lecture is Good For

There is no doubt that I do not appreciate lectures. Like Talbert, I am inspired by others’ speaking about issues that they are passionate about, but I do not learn well when lecture is the primary driver for knowledge conveyance.  But his four things, in the context presented, do make a compelling argument for how a lecture format can be an effective tool for learning.

1.   Modeling thought processes

The idea of modeling is not new to elementary teachers. There is as much information conveyed to children in how you act/move as there is in what you say to young children. Their first learning experiences are all about watching and imitating gestures, walking, expressing emotion and all types of other non-verbal activities. If I take two minutes to show a child how to do something, I imagine it saving ten to twenty minutes of talking and possible re-teaching if I only use words (that are subject to misinterpretation or misperception.)

I can recall several instances where I was able to pick up on the thought processes, rationale and thinking that the ‘teacher’ was using to get to an appropriate solution.

2.  Sharing Cognitive Structures

While Talber’s example is rather facile, I can imagine fairly easily how this purpose could ignite understanding and provide the scaffolding a student needs to break through to understanding an abstract concept or idea when it is shared by an expert: learn from the master comes to mind. I imagine there are countless opportunities in every discipline or subject for this method to be effective: application of a mathematical formula; understanding a law of physics, chemistry or cell biology; determining the correct language to use in a paper; using a technique or tool appropriately in art, design or engineering.

3. Giving Context

Providing the appropriate mindset, setting and relationships is another fairly effective tool of the K-8 trade. As James Gee said in the Digital Media video (above):

Humans don’t learn from abstractions. They don’t learn from just a bunch of words. They learn from having experiences and then learning how to generalize, eventually, from lots of experiences: find patterns in them and then marry them to words.

Providing context allows students to use both their own experiences and their ability to abstract to develop their understanding of new material.

4. Telling Stories

Stories are a powerful way of transmitting knowledge and history – they were at the origin of mankind and have held their value through time. Stories based on both knowlege and history  provide context for further learning and understanding and allow students to insert themselves into the story as well.

21st Century learning is dawning as an age of personalization of learning experiences but working toward a collective knowledge base that makes us all responsible to and for one another’s learning.

Tomorrow is definitely here now.