Simon Says Mindfulness Enhances Learning

As a group we watched, “Simon Sinek: Why Leaders Eat Last,” a Pop-Up School presentation sponsored by Behance. Then, an EdX MOOC entitled, “Mindfulness and Resilience to Stress at Work”. Collectively, our varying perspectives identified positive and negative aspects within the format of each learning experience as well as how our unique learning styles received and coded the inbound content.

We found Simon Sinek used a cognitivist approach by mentioning stories and metaphors with consistent characters and references throughout his storytelling to strengthen schema and improve content retention (Merriam & Bierema, 2014). According to Merriam & Bierema (2014), “the experiences from which one learns need to be as contextualized, that is as ‘authentic’ as possible,” (p.119). Sinek utilized these authentic examples in conjunction with simple visuals to enable learners to connect with the subject matter and lessons. The “Experiencing” learner (Kolb, 2013) of the group felt the presenter’s delivery was ideal for her learning style. She noted that when Sinek spoke about the circle of trust, she easily bridged the content to her own experiences. Another group member, an “Initiating” learner (Kolb, 2013), also noted within the debriefing group discussion that Sinek’s way of breaking down scientific components made the subject matter more palatable. Collectively, the group was intrigued and engaged with this learning experience. It is likely that the group will mirror the practices of simple visuals and metaphors that connect the subject matter to individuals’ life experiences into their facilitation of adult learners.

In comparison, the learning experience of “Mindfulness and Resilience to Stress at Work” did not have the same positive impact and intrigue. Even with the variety of format and physical breaks between sections, this MOOC was received as lengthy and cumbersome. All group members entered this learning experience believing that the subject matter could benefit their lives, so it was frustrating to find the content was redundant. Their language when presenting the technical components of the lesson did not appeal to the outsider or common person, which resulted in the failure of learners having a moment of connection and clarity. Specifically, the two “Imagining” learners (Kolb, 2013) of the group did not feel they were able to connect with the facilitators’ real world examples because the examples were not relatable. 

But the layout and ideas of this MOOC check-off many of the boxes for the ideal framework of adult learning. All six-steps of Knowles’ self-directed process were involved with the outline of this MOOC; specifically, the primary facilitators assumed the learners were ready to develop new skills and internally motivated to make personal changes in their behavior, (Merriam & Bierema, 2014). The MOOC included elements of written self-reflection, test assessments based on completion, and the incorporation of instructional videos. Where this experience did not fit into the framework was in the facilitator’s lack of minimizing stress to the learner. With an abundance of information provided in the two readings and amount of theories and ideas, learners felt overwhelmed by the information overload.

Both online learning platforms were shaped to promote personal self-growth through two different styles of teaching. The group enjoyed reflecting on how our learning styles impacted how we perceived the information taught to us. Furthermore, we discussed how Knowles played a big impact in the structure of the content in both the EdX Talk and the MOOC. We observed that the facilitators assumed their students were internally driven to learn, to use their experience as resources for learning and, be motivated to unlearn what the student knows to better themselves for the future. Finally, this project allowed for self evaluation in real time to understand the group member’s preferred digital teaching methods that support learning. 



99U. (2013, December 4). Why Leaders Eat Last. Retrieved from

Bierema, L. L. & Merriam S.B. (2014). Adult learning linking theory and practice. San Francisco,
California: Jossey-Bass. 

Keltner, D. & Simon-Thomas, E. (2020). GG202x: Mindfulness and resilience to stress at work.
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Kolb, A. & Kolb, D. A. (2013) The Kolb Learning Style Inventory 4.0. Experience Based Learning
Systems, Inc. Retrieved from: