The idea around the three aims of ‘The Mindfulness Pedagogy’ is that every school should have these three principal aims integrated in their school’s vision or ethos and should be understood with clarity by children, teachers & parents.
- Well-being of staff & children in the school. To nurture in children a sense of well-being, self-esteem & self-examination.
- Create a mindfulness environment school-wide. To help children build and then enjoy a community and to understand the concept of interdependence.
- Explore the relationships between learning & mindfulness. To help children become enthusiastic & life-long learners & achievers.
1. Well-being of staff & children in the school. To nurture/develop in children a sense of well-being, self-esteem & self-examination.
“Real education can only begin out of a foundation of self-awareness. Know the truth of yourself.” John Gatto
Through the promotion of the school as a community for children, we should aim to attend to children’s capabilities, needs, hopes and anxieties in the here and now and promote their mental, emotional and physical well-being and welfare. We should believe in a strong sense of self and a positive outlook on life are not only desirable in themselves; they are also conducive to learning and to engage wholeheartedly in all kinds of worthwhile activities and relationships. Well-being also means attending to future fulfilment and not just present needs and capabilities. This means “holding everyone to their highest possible potentials” (Stephen Batchelor – Co-author of the Elephant’s footprint).
Empowerment & Autonomy
We should also aim to empower children through the acquisition of knowledge, skills, personal qualities and an understanding of compassionate living to discover and lead rewarding lives and right livelihoods and find meaning for themselves in a continuously changing world. We should have confidence that children will be able to discriminate in their choice of activities and relationships and to see beyond the surface appeal of appearance, fashion & celebrity to what is of abiding value, and retain their own centre when faced with shifting values & relationships.
2. Create a mindfulness environment school-wide. To help children build and then enjoy a community and to understand the concept of interdependence.
Encouraging compassion through self-knowledge
To promote respect for self and through that for peers and adults and all living things; for other generations, diversity and difference, for language, culture and custom, for ideas and values and for those habits of willing courtesy and kindness between persons. To ensure that respect is mutual. To understand the interchange of learning & human relations through the promotion of the concepts like impermanence & interdependence.
Promoting interdependence & sustainability
To develop children’s understanding of humanity’s dependence for well-being and survival on reasonable relationships between individuals, groups, communities and nations, and on a sustainable relationship with the natural world, and help children to move from mere ‘understanding’ to positive action in order that they can make a difference and be in no doubt they have the power to do so.
Developing communal responsibility
To help children to become active citizens by encouraging their participation in decision-making within the class and school community and to advance their understanding of kindness, compassion, human rights, diversity, conflict resolution and social justice. To develop a sense that human interdependence and the fragility of the world require a concept of citizenship and a ‘one world’ attitude.
Celebrating culture and the community
To establish the school as a cultural site, a focal point of community life and thought. To enact within the school the behaviours and relationships on which community most directly depends, and in so doing encourage this ‘community’ to be lived outside the school. To appreciate that education is a major embodiment of a culture’s way of life, not just a preparation for it, and that school is a place of culture – that is, a place where a personal and collective culture is developed.
3. Explore the relationships between learning & mindfulness. To help children become enthusiastic & life-long learners & achievers
‘It is about maximising children’s learning potential through good teaching and the proper application of evidence about how children develop and learn and how happy teachers teach more effectively.’
‘Any school which strives to educate the whole person should also ensure proper academic standards.’ – The Elephant’s footprint
Exploring, knowing, understanding and making sense
To enable children to encounter and be able to explore the wealth of human experience through introduction to and active engagement in, the different ways through which we make sense of our world and act upon it: intellectual, ethical, spiritual, creative, social, emotional and physical; through language, mathematics, science, the humanities, the arts, religion and other ways of knowing and understanding. Learning is grounded in a mixture of amazement and curiosity which constitutes childhood wonder. Further to this we would encourage children to know & celebrate how the learning strategies they employ are closely related to many mindful principles. (See other post)
Fostering skilful behaviours
To foster in children skilful behaviours on which learning and a rewarding ethical life most depend: mindfulness practices, mindful speaking & deep listening, inquiry & debate, literacy, mathematics, science, information technology, the creative and performing arts; but also in practical activities: communication, compassion, creativity, invention, mindfulness, problem-solving & reflection.
Exciting the imagination
To excite children’s imagination in order that they can advance beyond present understanding, extend the boundaries of their lives, contemplate a world possible as well as actual, understand cause and effect, develop the capacity for empathy, and reflect on and regulate their behaviour; to explore and test language, ideas and arguments in activity and form of thought. To experience the delights – and pains – of imagining, and of entering into the imaginative world of others, is to become a more rounded person.
Enacting right-speech & deep listening
Right speech & deep listening can help children grasp that learning and reflecting on mindfulness practices is communal and that understanding builds through joint activity. To help children recognise that knowledge is not only transmitted but also negotiated and re-created. To continue to advance our pedagogy in which dialogue is central: between self and others, between present and past, between different ways of making sense.
By listening to our pupils we will become better schools. All schools should advocate children’s voices. We should recognise the importance of listening to our learners and their opinions about their school and their education.