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The Power of Mindful Learning

by Ellen J. Langer

ISBN 0201488396 / 9780201488395 / 0-201-48839-6
Publisher Perseus Books
Language English
Edition Hardcover
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Book summary

Remember those all-nighters back in college--staying up till all hours memorizing the plu-perfect form of the verb avoir or the names and dates of succession of all the kings of England? Now remember facing that final exam and having your mind go blank? According to Professor Ellen J. Langer, author of The Power of Mindful Learning, those sleepless nights and agonizing memorization were probably for naught. In her book, Professor Langer seeks to prove that real learning takes place in a "mindful" environment, one that provides a context for the subject we are studying and allows us to bring something of ourselves into the process. As an example, she points to a study of two groups of piano students, one of which was taught through repetition and memorization of scales, while the other was encouraged to respond to their own thoughts and emotions. The second group became more competent and more creative.

Professor Langer espouses a more holistic approach to teaching than is generally in vogue today. For example, she believes that forgetting can be an essential component to learning: just as smokers who have attempted to quit before have a better chance of succeeding in future attempts, so people who have forgotten information and skills and then relearn them may remember better the second time. The Power of Mindful Learning is sure to raise a great deal of debate among educators, and this is a good thing; after all, what old dog couldn't stand to learn a new trick or two? [via]