The Power of Mindful Learning

by Ellen Langer | Da Capo © 1997 · 167 pages

Ready to apply mindfulness to learning and teaching? That's what this book is all about as Ellen Langer challenges seven pervasive myths related to learning. In the Note we explore Ideas ranging from reframing, ever-present gratification and creating options to mindful presentations and celebrating confusion.

When faced with something that hasn’t been done before, people frequently express the belief that it can’t be done. All progress, of course, depends on questioning that belief.
Ellen Langer

“The term mindful learning is used here in a very specific way, drawn from the concept of mindfulness that I defined in an earlier book by that name. A mindful approach to any activity has three characteristics: the continuous creation of new categories; openness to new information; and an implicit awareness of more than one perspective. Mindlessness, in contrast, is characterized by an entrapment in old categories; by automatic behavior that precludes attending to new signals; and by action that operates from a single perspective. Being mindless, colloquially speaking, is like being on autopilot. In Mindfulness, I described the benefits of a mindful approach for our psychological and physical well-being. For instance, elderly adults given mindfulness treatments were shown to live longer than their peers who were not given such treatments. In this book I use the concept of mindfulness as a lens through which to explore its importance in the world I know best, teaching and learning.”

~ Ellen Langer from The Power of Mindful Learning

This is the third Note we’ve done on Ellen Langer’s wisdom.

As I mentioned in the Notes on Mindfulness and Counterclockwise, Langer is one of the world’s leading research scientists, the first tenured female professor in Harvard’s Department of Psychology and creator of what she calls the “psychology of possibility.”

This book is all about applying her research on mindfulness to the world she knows best: teaching and learning. (Get a copy here.)

It’s packed with Big Ideas and I’m excited to share a few of my favorites so let’s jump straight in!

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About the author


Ellen Langer

Author and Harvard Professor of Psychology - "the mother of mindfulness"