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Mindfulness Based Learning and the Algebra Factor!

Thursday, Jun. 23rd 2011 4:59 AM

MINDFULNESS BASED LEARNING (MBL) and the Algebra Factor How many times have each of us completed a task and then asked ourselves how we did, or worse, did we do it safely and well? Here, I’m including simple tasks like brushing our teeth or bathing ourselves, right through to mowing the lawn and even driving our cars. We’re so often here or not here. Well, our bodies are going through the motions of being ‘here’ but are WE there? Why is it that for a large amount of our waking time, we humans are not wholly here. If ALL of us are not here then where are we?

There are many, many reasons why all of our attention units are not with us as often as we would like, from childhood trauma right through to worrying about something we are going to do ‘next’. The important thing here is that we recognise that our whole being is not with us in the present moment. Awareness of course is the key to being really present for our lives.

From a teaching and learning point of view, it is imperative that students ( and teachers for that matter ) are as present to the learning process as they can be. Being ‘mindful’ is a great start. So, what is mindfulness?

Mindfulness, in the learning context means; ‘paying attention, on purpose in the present moment and non judgmentally’. ( Jon Kabat-Zinn). Simply, this means that we are mindful and aware of the present moment task we are engaged in. No matter what it is. The more mindful we are the better the results the experience provides.

This is particularly true of students when learning any new content. Often the unnecessary and inappropriate ‘baggage’ from past learning ‘failures’ inhibits and retards the new learning experience. For example, a student who is about to engage in understanding some previously studied algebra, will necessarily bring the energy of the previous experience with them. Now, this can be beneficial to the learning experience or the complete opposite. Unfortunately for many students, it really gets in the way of a successful and meaningful learning experience. So, what can we do? One of the most beneficial strategies is to become more mindful of the experience at hand and one of the most effective ways to do this, is through some or all of the five primary physical senses. What does the student see, hear, smell? How are they sitting? Are their legs in contact with the floor?

This increased sensorial awareness then translates into being more present and therefore more aware of the learning experience they are undertaking. The increases learning outcomes really can be spectacular. Even something as simple as using coloured pens to compete the algebraic steps can significantly increase the retention rates.

So, next time your child has difficulty in understanding anything, why not invite them to become more mindful first. Better still, why wait? Why not try a and become a little more mindful yourself, everyday. The more mindful we become in our lives, the more enjoyable and fulfilling life becomes for us.

Posted by Sean | in Uncategorized