Teaching Mindfulness in Schools
Thinking of education, one cannot help admiring the cogent approach of Maria Montessori in establishing the fact that educating a child means educating a whole nation. She was one of the greatest minds of the 20th century. She revolutionised education. Her ideas and conclusions had an impact on pedagogy all around the world. Montessori was certain that education was a key factor in changing the world. She thought that this was the area to give the history of humanity a better direction.
Someone told me once, ” if I had meditation in my life as a child, my adulthood would have been more sorted.” Mindfulness is the psychological process of bringing one’s attention to experiences occurring in the present moment, which can be developed through the practice of meditation and other training methodologies. Mindfulness practices are becoming more common within educational institutions all around the world, including Elementary and Secondary schools. This has been referred to as part of a ‘contemplative turn’ in education that has emerged since the turn of the millennium. The application of mindfulness in schools is aimed at calming and relaxation of students as well as educators to build compassion and empathy for others. An additional benefit of Mindfulness in education is to reduce anxiety and stress in students. The National Institute of Mental Health, recently published that 1 out of 4 kids, meets the criteria for a serious mental health issue, ADHD, behavioural issues, eating disorders, anxiety, depression, to name a few. The findings of Lokniti CSDS youth survey indicate that around 4 out of 10 youngsters who are currently studying felt regular or occasional bouts of stress and depression, and at least 6% of them felt like committing suicide at least once in the last couple of years. This is disturbing indeed. Apart from the obvious deficiencies in the methods of our education system and faults inherent in our educational attitudes, we cannot continue to ignore the silent changes that are going on in the very structure of the human mind. We must have a reasonable approach to the problem, which is more psychophysiological. Researchers conclude that this needs a shift, from treatment to early intervention and prevention.
Based on a broad meta-analytical review, scholars argue that the application of mindfulness practice enhances the goals of education in the 21st century, which include adapting to a rapidly changing world and being a caring and committed citizen. Within educational systems, the application of mindfulness practices shows an improvement of students’ attention and focus, emotional regulation, creativity, and problem-solving skills. While mindfulness is an age-old practice, the scientific journey and research on its effectiveness in education have about thirty years of cogent approach. Adult samples show long-term benefits on overall well being and brain functioning. However, the brains of young people are substantially more responsive to being changed, due to the experience of the phenomenon known as neuroplasticity, compared to an adult brain. This suggests, the long-term effects of mindfulness being more beneficial for students than adults. Bite-size mindfulness and short kid-friendly practices, when done consistently, can be a powerful tool to help our children lead healthier and happier lives. They are simple to do consume very little time and cost nothing, as we all know, breathing is free.