Mindfulness & Education: Transforming Learning Through Awareness

Donna Sacco, Special Education, UNC Charlotte

A concern in education is the focus on product versus process. Langer (1997) writes that perhaps our early education, with its focus on “goals rather than the process by which they are achieved,” is a reason we become “mindless.” This single-minded focus for outcomes reduces the value placed on process and the experience of generating ideas, understanding concepts and content, and building the imaginative and intuitive skills necessary in life. In recent years, mindfulness in education has demonstrated tangible results that improve students’ capacity to learn, strengthen emotional literacy, and improve well-being.  It is defined as “maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment” (Weiss & Hackman, 2016). By developing and engaging in their own mindfulness practice, Fellows will learn valuable tools that can reduce stress, enhance focus, and cultivate creativity and self-awareness-skills basic and essential to learning. These practices will benefit the Fellows and their students at the same time. In step one, the work will begin as teacher focused to help build the Fellows’ personal skills of mindfulness.  Step two, Fellows will transition to building a classroom community of mindfulness.  Step three, Fellows will develop lessons that are project based or integrate the arts incorporating mindfulness to enhance student learning and essential skills for student success. This wholistic approach to learning will enhance any social emotional learning practice already begun within the classroom. We will read current research on mindfulness for strengthening learning across the curriculum. A guiding text will be The Mindful School: Transforming School Culture Through Mindfulness and Compassion (Jennings, 2019). Examining the work and lessons learned from real schools, Fellows will be encouraged to create curriculum units for their content areas that integrate mindfulness.

Jennings, P. A. (2019). The mindful school: Transforming school culture through mindfulness and compassion. New York, NY: Guilford Press.

Langer, E., & Langer, E. (1997.). The power of mindful learning. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.

Weiss, L. & Hickman, S. (2016). Mindfulness. Retrieved from Greater Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life website: http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/topic/mindfulness/definition#what_is

Seminar Participants: