Forming Habits of Mindfulness

Writing is a good method to build intuition. Intuition is the ability to understand something immediately without much reasoning, but this skill comes with experience and practice. Mutnik confirms that the act of reading and writing must be taught to be viewed as meaningful with purpose and not a development of life skills by drilling correctness into assignments (190).

The practice comes in the form of review and revision. Being intuitive is being mindful of errors, but intuition is also knowing, as an instructor, when thise errors do not take away from the discourse of the student. The experience may come in form of writing in response to a novel or article, but more likely from interacting with others. Rhetoric doesn’t always lend itself to correctness and therefore the logic and structure must be connected to tangible occurrences and intangible concepts.

Mutnick highlights that the concept of ascertaining language skills verbally is the foundation on which some scholars have built a rebuttal to. These scholars would argue that basic writers learning with a separation from familiar cultural influences will produce proper literacy skills (190). But, dialectalism and biculturism are an intrinsic part of mastering language. Bartholomae in “Inventing the University” claims that students must even see themselves in their own writing in order to add to the academic discourse they are learning. Within that learning process imitation is the driving force behind learning. Although I do not completely agree with this concept, because I think the act of reading scholarship leads to better writing and habits of mindfulness help to develop the growth of the writers actual writing abilities along with instruction.

Noetheless, Bartholomae’s argument stuck with me, that a student must see themselves within privileged academic discourse to become better writers. Being a good writer involves communicating effectively on various levels. Effective communication in general and in academia are powerful tools. But, to harness that power the student must be intuitively aware of themselves, and their logical and emotional processes in order to respond to stimuli. Within the state of that awareness the reader becomes the writer and the critical component to synthesizing information begins in mindful habit formation.

While reading “On the Academic Margins: Basic Writing Pedagogy , a film named Innsaei was brought to mind. The purpose of this alteration in the education setting is to heighten the awareness of adolescent learners through theoretical engagement in writing and contemplative meditation to stimulate social and intellectual growth. The program is known as Mind Up and the process has proven to be successful in it’s goals. The act of reading aloud and discussing critical literary concepts with children is obviously beneficial, but the unique aspect of the program is how these students relate these literary concepts to their own lives and knowledge of how the brain functions as an organ. For instance, the amygdala regulates aspects of thinking altered by emotions such as anger. These emotions cause a pre-frontal cortex reaction which these students can link back to how they respond to frustrating situations or why the wolf ate the three little pigs in rhetorical discourse and writing.

I see the critical theorists developing in these adolescent minds and wonder if meditation and interacting with intuition and writing in-class would be beneficial for the college/adult student? Mind Up seems to be teaching error by teaching students to accept the biological tendency to encounter “error” within ourselves and thusly the people we meet, characters we read about, and writing habit errors we form when we aren’t mindful.

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3 thoughts on “Forming Habits of Mindfulness

  1. I think it is important that students see themselves as writers. They tend to think that their voices do not matter, and that they have nothing of importance to add to any academic conversation. Bartholomae and similar theorists worked against that. They try to get students to see that they can be part of the academic conversation. Yes, we all pretty much start with imitation, but everybody has to start somewhere. I think instructors need to remember that students are not necessarily attempting to impress them or win bonus points by trying to adopt the academic language. This is just a discourse they have not mastered yet.

    I have read an article about a school in a state (don’t recall which one) of the US that makes their children mediate every day, and they see hardly any behavioral issues, and they also have strong test scores. I think schools today do too much busy work, and they don’t give students enough physical exercise (recess, P.E. and so on), so that students don’t just sit behind a desk all day. This is especially true for elementary schools. Adding meditations seems like a good idea, though I am sure many people in this area would resist this as something alternative, designed to brainwash their children away from Christianity.

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  2. “Effective communication in general and in academia are powerful tools. But, to harness that power the student must be intuitively aware of themselves, and their logical and emotional processes in order to respond to stimuli.”

    How do we work with BW students to get to that point? Many of them have come from schools that have little to no resources to sufficiently help them, much less do some of this stuff. Bartholomae has some excellent points, and he’s right in that students have to learn the language. We learn language by mimicking, and the academy is no different. Problems arise when our students have no idea that there’s even a problem (or this expectation), other than they have been tested into an area where they are called “basic.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I see the error in that quote. Effective communication is a powerful tool and I respect your smooth transference of knowledge in that response. I think you just demonstrated an example of Bartholomae claiming that students must see themselves in their writing.

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