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The Power of Mindful Learning

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  574 ratings  ·  55 reviews
Radical in its implications, this original and important work may change forever the views we hold about the nature of learning. In The Power of Mindful Learning, Ellen Langer uses her innovative theory of mindulness, introduced in her influential earlier book, to dramatically enhance the way we learn. In business, sports, laboratories, or at home, our learning is hobbled ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published March 17th 1998 by Da Capo Press (first published 1997)
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Jun 04, 2009 rated it it was ok
Read this during a grad level theory of learning class.

This book is a very easy read due to its simple language, clear examples, and brevity (less than 150 pp.) The author, Langer, bases her theory on 7 myths in education, including "learning the basics so that they are second nature" "paying attention means staying focused on one thing at a time" "delaying gratification is important" "rote memorization is necessary" "forgetting is a problem" "intelligence is knowing what's out there" "there ar
Feb 09, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This was a frustrating read. While it made some very good points and posed some very interesting findings on the nature of learning and mindfulness, this book was completely bogged down in the details of the studies themselves.

So what you would get is a long, painfully detailed description of a clinical trial or experiment, down to controlled variables and even the specific number of participants in each study, all leading up to a very profoundly insightful conclusion or observation that itself
Apr 09, 2020 rated it it was ok
This was the second of two texts I read as part of a post-graduate continuing education course called, "Creating a Mindful Environment."

I found this text to be slightly more enjoyable, understandable and relatable to my teaching than the first. With a more narrowed focus on mindfulness in an educational setting, I found Langer's points to be more clear and her examples/research more relevant. There were a few studies and experiments which also appeared in the previous text. I found that to be un
Denise Bass
Apr 19, 2018 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Paul Reynolds
Mar 13, 2010 rated it it was amazing
The Power of Mindful Learning is a bookshelf essential for educators. Dr. Ellen Langer shows - based on over two decades of research on learning at Harvard University, traditional education makes the mistake of serving up “packets of information” and expecting students to digest them. Our real mission as educators, she points out, is to inspire learners to WANT to open those packets. One of the key triggers to do that is to provide context and personal meaning to each potential learning moment. ...more
Nov 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Short, concise, powerful concepts about learning. I'd recommend this to anyone curious about how we learn and develop new skills, or looking to improve how they learn.
Chandana Watagodakumbura
In “The Power of Mindful Learning”, the author Ellen Langer (a Professor of Psychology at Harvard University), duly highlights the fact that meaningful learning results only when it takes place in a mindful manner. She put forth many examples of how mindless learning is directed and takes place inadvertently in many education systems that existed and currently prevailing. For example, guiding and testing learners for rote memorisation in which isolated pieces of information/data are and/or uncon ...more
An excellent follow up read to Langer's Mindfulness, a more general take on the topic. Personally, I am surprised more mindfulness "experts" do not reference her work more. Her empirical studies bring much validity to the concept. I found both books to be excellent resources for thinking about how we can create school environments where students are focused more on what they are doing and less on how they are doing.
Jun 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book opened my eyes to thinking about how we learn in a completely different way. It challenges traditional approaches to learning with research that the author is personally familiar with. This calls everyone who is an educator higher. We should always be open to new discoveries in the field and strive to incorporate new ideas that show promising results.
Nov 08, 2017 rated it it was ok
Would information to fill an article, not a book
Jul 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebook
Great book

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Professor Langer has written a thought provoking on how we operate with care, mindfulness on how we educate our students.
Christine Fitzgerald
Interesting read about how mindfulness can enhance learning. Quick read but also at times heavy into theory and not so much practicality.
Feb 15, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: audio-books
There is no right and wrong answer, it’s all about the perspective. The means of measuring Intelligence is merely one dimension of perception. Never thought of education/work/learning this way.
Mar 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Myths about learning and the role of memory in learning are discussed. Learning in context is mindful learning.
hemlet kiai
Mar 15, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mylibrary
insightful and eye opening book
Mar 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
A well written book that explains psychology of mindful learning. Langer's language is concise and easy to understand. She also has a humorous tone which makes the whole book quite interesting.
Jun 28, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: self-help, science
An excellent work that could have had a lot more exposition and a lot less emphasis on the details of specific experiments. Good food for thought.
Miguel Panão
Jul 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A thoughtful book that opened my mind to a new perspective on learning.
Sarot Busala
Aug 09, 2020 rated it liked it
Give me a new Len to view the world !
The writing is kinda boring but it is informative.
Jan 26, 2020 rated it it was ok
This book gets 2 stars from me because there were aspects I liked and I do think the information presented was helpful. However, it only gets 2 because I also think the book was too wordy and contained way too many examples to get the point across.
Nov 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
What is learning? How do we learn? If someone is teaching us, are we necessarily learning? Does education sometimes stifle creativity? In order to scratch the surface of these seemingly unanswerable questions, one can look to the writings of the first tenured philosophy professor at Harvard University, Ellen J. Langer. Langer has published books covering a multitude of idea based topics from decision making to aging. But through her book The Power of Mindful Learning, Langer transforms ones pers ...more
I wanted to like this book more...I even read it a second time during a long plane ride to Boston...but found it lacking. Langer is a proponent of "mindful" activity (which she is careful to distinguish from Buddhist, Advaitist, etc. concepts of this, but which she notes shares some similarities). She mostly describes and cites studies by her graduate students showing how a "mindful framing" enhances performance outcomes, and tries to debunk what she calls "seven myths" of how people learn.

Jun 24, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: get-again
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Very meaningful book although a tad bit hard to read owning to use of longer words. The book makes great case for the role of curiosity and open mindedness toward learning. It rightly showcases how being pressed for a preconceived or specific outcomes can stifle our interest in and curiosity for a subject, limiting our ability to look at it from different perspectives, reducing our ability to enhance and retain our knowledge of the same.

The book also cautions teachers, parents, or any experts i
Dec 21, 2007 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: dedicated professional teachers
I read this book because I like to explore different ways of learning. The book was too deep and difficult for my purposes, however. Probably, the fault lies more with me than with the book itself - it just wasn't a match, for the most part.

Still, it did have some interesting ideas about dispensing with authoritarian attitudes in learning truths. E.g., say you were learning to play Ode to Joy; just because it's a classic, the written sheet music is certainly NOT the only way to play it, at all.
Mar 13, 2008 rated it liked it
I am a fan of mindfulness and the significant role that it can play in a person's life. I also love education (life long learning) and I thought a combination of the two would prove insightful. Unfortunately this book fell short in my expectation. This is a good theoretical presentation on the role that mindfulness can play in learning though there is little in the application of. And perhaps I am stuck in my; own paradigm but I think that education needs to provide some context for learning, it ...more
Victor Barger
Mar 19, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Everyone!
Fascinating book on how people learn and what affects one's ability to learn. Ellen Langer, a professor of psychology at Harvard, draws on her academic research to challenge the prevailing wisdom on teaching, learning, and intelligence. Although this book is short and easy to read, it offers much to reflect upon. I would say it's a "must read" for educators and parents, and a worthwhile read for everyone else! ...more
Jul 04, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: education
I only gave this three stars because the material is familiar to me, however, for those new to the concept of mindfulness, this is a good way to develop an understanding of this area. I have come to believe in Langer's statement which predates Dweck's fixed/growth mindset theory: "If we fail to explore several perspectives, we risk confusing the stability of our own mindset with the stability of the phenomenon itself." She ends with an important feature of education, pay attention to our questio ...more
Sep 07, 2009 rated it it was ok
This Professor of Psychology at Harvard University lives up to her credentials by presenting convincing, well researched arguments for mindful thinking, or what it seems is merely "thinking outside the box". She examines the value of "correct" answers, delayed gratification, rote memorization, forgettiing, intelligence testing, staying focused and learning the basics.
A light presentation of some heavy subjects.
Joan Young
Jun 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book really makes us think about how we often take away the power of learning when we "teach" too much instead of letting kids discover. It really helped me to rethink many of my practices and really question the objectives and outcome of what I do. I love Ellen Langer as a storyteller. She captures my attention and helps me return to realizing how powerful mindfulness is in overall well-being, not just in learning.
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Ellen Langer, Yale PhD, Harvard Professor of Psychology, artist. Among other honors, she is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and three Distinguished Scientist Awards, the World Congress Award, the NYU Alumni Achievement Award, and the Staats award for Unifying Psychology, and has authored eleven books and over 200 research articles on the illusion of control, perceived control, successful

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You know the saying: There's no time like the present...unless you're looking for a distraction from the current moment. In that case, we can't...
16 likes · 6 comments
“By mindfully considering data not as stable commodities but as sources of ambiguity, we become more observant.” 4 likes
“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” 1 likes
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