Creativity Information

Mindfulness and Teaching: Lessons From Dynamic English


Back in 1983, I was hired to teach English in rural northern Japan. I had no experience teaching, and didn't speak a work of Japanese.

No matter-I had the requisite four-year college degree and a thirst for adventure.

My employer/boss/teaching partner was Grif Frost, a 27-year-old budding entrepreneur who had married the Japanese exchange student who had once lived with his family. He ended up living near his wife's parents in Mutsu, and did what any self-respecting English-speaking person did in Japan in 1982-he started an English school.

Now, Grif had no experience teaching, either. He had a master's in International Management and a couple of toddlers at home. He was the token foreigner in Mutsu, and figured he might as well put it to good use.

Without training, he developed an approach he called "Dynamic English"-a high-energy, full-body, take-no-prisoners form of English as pure entertainment. He focused on presenting classes that were "Fast, Fun and Friendly", and was notorious for his colorful puppets, loud singing, dramatic storytelling, and excessive sweating.

As his partner, I picked up on the style quickly. Soon, I was causing my own stampedes of 3-year-olds and getting my share of notoriety for creative book-reading. In one memorable moment, I was spreading my arms wide to demonstrate the concept of "big" when my blouse burst open. Talk about a visual aid!

We became something like rock stars among the kindergarten children. Imagine a hundred Japanese five-year-olds seeing big white Americans with squeaky oversized plastic mallets (great for elimination during "Simon Says"), an overflowing bag of what looked suspiciously like toys, and boisterous "Good Morning!" greetings. The kids would literally fall over laughing at our stunts, and never got tired of our silly songs and wild games.

We were doing what came naturally-fully engaging the students in a way that created real awareness of language, objects, directions, shapes, colors, and verbal and musical sounds. Our older students were thrilled with this active approach, so different from the "This is a pen" lessons they'd chanted in their mandatory English classes in middle school. By providing new triggers, surprising methods, and hilarious material, we were offering novel stimuli, fresh perspective, and 100% focus on the present.

Little did we know that a Harvard psychologist would later describe these same characteristics as essential for mindful learning! Dr. Ellen Langer, author of The Power of Mindful Learning, talks about the importance of being open to novelty, drawing distinctions, being aware of differing contexts and perspectives, and orienting in the present.

Learning a language can be incredibly tedious or outrageously active and exciting. We played with English and our students not only learned the lessons quickly but laughed heartily, burned calories, and created a whole new mindset about what it takes to learn something new.

Grif relied on mindful learning in developing his approach to teaching English-he was completely open from the beginning, and was never hampered by ideas of what teaching should look like.

He was creative about using games and songs he'd loved as a kid and turning them into fresh and powerful tools for teaching. He shifted the lesson plans when dealing with various age groups and English levels, and constantly improved his approach by paying attention to the responses and being fearless about making changes and trying out new ideas.

Years later, I am delighted to find myself applying this approach to teaching mindfulness. Instead of sticking with the meditation lesson plan, I've opted for the excitement of learning mindfulness in a way that is thoroughly engaging and surprisingly active. In fact, the basic guidelines for Real-World Mindfulness Training are remarkably similar to those for Dynamic English:

* Stay open to new things-including your approach to learning in general.

* Look for subtle differences in similar objects or ideas.

* Discover new uses for old tools.

* Explore shifting perspectives.

* Shake up stale notions.

* Engage all senses.

* Get physical whenever possible.

* Jump into the moment wholeheartedly.

* Be sure to have fun every single day.

Whether you're learning a language or developing mindfulness, the key is this: keep it dynamic.

And never underestimate the value of large squeaky plastic mallets. Just imagine how much fun it would be to use one in a room full of meditators!

Maya Talisman Frost is a mind masseuse in Portland, Oregon. Through her company, Real-World Mindfulness Training, she teaches fun and effective eyes-wide-open ways to get calm, clear and creative. To subscribe to her free weekly ezine, the Friday Mind Massage, please visit http://www.MassageYourMind.com


MORE RESOURCES:
This RSS feed URL is deprecated, please update. New URLs can be found in the footers at https://news.google.com/news


New York Times

Forget a Fast Car. Creativity Is the New Midlife Crisis Cure.
New York Times
“People see creativity as the solution to the midlife crisis,” said Julia Cameron, the high priestess of the creative movement whose book “The Artist's Way: A Spiritual Path to Creativity” has sold more than four million copies since it was published ...



Harvard Business Review

How to Use Mindfulness to Increase Your Team's Creativity
Harvard Business Review
How do you help your team develop their creativity? Research has found that a short period of mindfulness training can have a positive impact on creative output. To explore this idea further, we conducted a study with a midsize U.S.-based real estate ...



Adweek

It's Time to Re-Evaluate the Role of Creativity in Transforming Businesses
Adweek
Just as marketing and advertising have evolved in the past 15 years to become different industries, it's time to step up and rethink the role that creatives and more importantly, creativity, play in transforming businesses. This redefinition will ...



The Sun

World Cup 2018: England lacked creativity in midfield and had no Harry Kane backup… six problems which cost us in ...
The Sun
ENGLAND'S 2018 World Cup campaign was an unexpected feelgood story and an undoubted overall triumph, offering hope of better to things to come. Gareth Southgate performed an exceptional job in engineering an inexperienced and limited team so that ...

and more »


Harvard Business Review

Too Much Team Harmony Can Kill Creativity
Harvard Business Review
Consistent with these famous case studies, scientific research shows that creativity and innovation can be enhanced by reducing team harmony. For instance, a recent study of 100 product development teams found that two common disruptors of team ...



Financial Times

Award-winning creativity on World Cup semis night
Financial Times
Summer dos timetabled for Wednesday night got creative in a bid to ensure they weren't boycotted by City folk drawn instead to England's World Cup semi-final against Croatia. The Euromoney awards dinner at the Hilton Park Lane was among the most ...



Fighting back: Smaller companies have the corner on creativity
Inman.com
I've always believed that while the large companies may have the stronger financial position, the smaller companies have the corner on creativity. With a boots-on-the-ground approach, I am present and available to the team, which allows me to make ...



Business.com

Get Creative: A Professor's Tips on Bringing Creativity to Your Business
Business.com
Professor Peter Childs, the head of Imperial College London's School of Design Engineering, knows a lot about the benefits of incorporating creativity into an organization. He teaches a course on creative thinking and how professionals can apply ...



Times of Malta

Presentation focuses on commercial creativity
Times of Malta
Jonathan Dalli, founder and managing director of The Concept Stadium, delivered a presentation to the marketing lecturers from Giovanni Curmi Higher Secondary about the firm's experience in the marketing industry and why it positions itself as a group ...



Telegraph.co.uk

Barry Humphries' Weimar Cabaret review, Barbican: 'Made you imagine the creativity of pre-Nazi Germany'
Telegraph.co.uk
The allure of Weimar-era Berlin has cast a spell over popular culture for nearly a century. The explosion of new ideas that happened in Germany after the First World War and the rise of Nazism in the early Thirties has had an incalculable influence on ...


Google News

home | site map | Ocean Art
© 2006