Tango Together, Slowly.
Twelve years ago, on the way back from Malaysia, after a pre-certification session for Celemi I picked up a book called, ‘The Power of Mindful Learning’ by Professor Ellen J. Langer of Harvard University. Though that was twelve years ago I must confess, in a way, I haven’t put the book down yet. I keep revisiting it to align my work to the subtle and sublime insights, from the book, to learn and how to help others learn better.
It’s a beautiful book, and for you who acknowledges that learning is life, it will coddle your heart and very spirit.
In the book, which is a sequel to her book ‘Mindfulness,’ Professor Langer debunks many myths about learning. Myths like…we must master the basics, we can focus only on one thing at a time, rote memorization is necessary for learning etc., Of all the insights she inspires me with there is this one beautiful paragraph that stands out for me, today, as it did when I first read it twelve years ago.
“My notes before a lecture are sparse to nonexistent. I fear that if I write out all that I plan to say, it will be hard not to rely on past thoughts when I give the lecture again. Without a script, I’m forced to reinvent the lecture instead of delivering a canned one. I remember the general points, but the particulars have to be rediscovered. Preparing in this manner makes it much more likely that I will deliver a lecture that reflects my current thinking and the present situation; I’m not tied to a rigid outline or to reading notes. Moreover, I find that I feel excited by the possibility of coming to a new insight.” (from The Power of Mindful Learning by Ellen J.Langer)
Thus, not only does Professor Langer drive learning but she lets it become a living, breathing thing for herself too. Now as a work-in-progress facilitator and keynote speaker I find this example awe-inspiring and it leaves me hungering to become one with my passion and work as a speaker. Learning well is best achieved when we allow our conscious and unconscious mind to tango, slowly, together. It’s the same, I suppose, for living well.
Also, over the years, I have depended on all forms of mind-mapping techniques to sketch my thoughts and to pen my “general points” in colors and pictures. In recent times, I have even managed to put away my pre-sketched general points in my pocket and just live with the thought that, yes I have pondered plenty about what I am going to say. I have also through mind-mapping refreshed all that lies in conscious and unconscious about the subject matter at hand. My experience of these interactions in the last several months has been invigorating not just for me but for the people I work with. Their levels of engagement, absorption, understanding and, follow through action has been remarkably high. Yet…I feel I have places to go and promises to keep and I will.
A fortnight from today I will again run my two-day marathon of “The HeART of Public Speaking” with mind-mapping workshop and I intend to influence the outcomes onto greater heights of learning, speaking and influencing mindfully. Yes, we will learn how to let our ideas and our actions tango together, slowly.
The thoughts you have developed here match very closely with my own thinking.With my firm belief in Critical Pedagogy and its unlimited potential in uncorking creativity in the experiencer,I try to draw on my latest information and most recent experiences while engaging an audience in a lecture or a class room.Besides firing up their curiosity, it also acts as a powerful tool for critical learning.
Thank you, Mr. Ramaswamy! Someday the paths of our souls will cross:)