by Darren Jackson

In Mindful Learning, Ellen Langer champions what she refers to as “sideways learning.” This type of mindful learning revolves around five different psychological states: “(1) openness to novelty; (2) alertness to distinction; (3) sensitivity to different contexts; (4) implicit, if not explicit awareness of multiple perspectives; and (5) orientation in the present.” The nemesis of sideways leaning is overlearning. Overlearning, or the rote performance of habitual behavior is closed, inattentive, insensitive, prejudiced, and hopelessly lost in the past. Sideways leaning recognizes the unique abilities of every learner, abilities that preclude the possibility of a right way to do something. If we, as educators, can foster and promulgate this kind of attitude in the classroom, we can maximize the potential that unfortunately languishes dormant in most students.