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Jon Kabat-Zinn

The Missing Dimension of the Education Debate – Tish Jennings

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I found this fascinating link on Twitter today via @educationweek

Tish directs the the Initiative on Contemplation and Education at the Garrison Institute and Research Assistant Professor in Human Development and Family Studies and the Prevention Research Center at Penn State University. See full bio.

She writes:

A growing body of research and field practice indicates that working on a more inward level — using secular, accessible techniques ranging from mindfulness to yoga to reflective writing — may hold the key to coping with these stresses more successfully, lowering attrition rates and ultimately improving education outcomes. Educators and researchers are exploring the use of contemplative or mindfulness-based approaches to teaching and learning to reduce stress, enhance classroom climate, and help students calm their bodies and minds, open their hearts and focus their attention.
This emerging field of contemplative education is a secular, evidence-based one, drawing on new research in neuroscience, cognitive science and developmental science, and adapting practices from contemplative traditions in secular ways that can work for teachers and classrooms. It is complementary with, but distinct from, social and emotional learning (SEL). It can support SEL by reinforcing social and emotional competencies both teachers and students need to succeed.
Today many children come to school with nervous systems unprepared to learn. Our modern lifestyle contains huge doses of real and/or imaginary violence, constant media exposure, general busyness, and high pressure that constantly triggers the fight-flight-freeze response, stimulating our limbic systems, washing our minds and bodies with stress hormones. This can have long-term effects. Thanks to contemporary neuroscience, we now know that exposure to situations that trigger emotional reactivity during development changes the way our brain and body respond to future stressors. It’s like a thermostat that’s been turned up too high.
This makes it very tough for kids to learn. When our limbic system is hyperreactive, it’s difficult to engage the prefrontal cortex and therefore difficult to absorb and process new information. (more)


I find this fascinating. There are so many inadequately explored application for mindfulness practice and helping kids focus is one of the goals of Kumon. Are there ways that we can better integrate mindfulness in a Kumon setting, and in other forms of learning, so that kids may learn more easily and with greater joy?

I found this site: Mindful Schools – Engaging children. Supporting educators…

“Our mission is to help lead the integration of mindfulness into education.

We are a non-profit organization that offers in-class instruction for children, a complete multi-level training program for adults, and other resources to support mindfulness in education.

Our program has used a scientifically proven technique called mindfulness to teach concentration, attention, conflict resolution, and empathy to over 11,000 children and 500 teachers in 41 schools, 71% of which serve predominantly low-income children.

We have conducted training and workshops for over 1,500 public and private school parents, teachers, therapists, and other professionals in education and social work.

They were promoting a talk by Jon KabatZinn

See an excerpt from a book he co-wrote with his wife about mindful parenting and teaching children: Mindfulness in the Classroom-Getting to Know Yourself in School

“Ms. Hamrick has not only brought mindfulness-based stress reduction
into the classroom. She has integrated mindfulness in one imaginative
way or another into virtually every aspect of the curriculum,
including math, English, science, and geography. She encourages her
students to use their whole selves in their learning. They approach a subject
so that they develop not only their cognitive and information-processing
skills but also their intuition, their feelings, and their bodies.
In this way, they are learning the basics of what is now called emotional
intelligence, as well as developing greater enthusiasm for learning.”

So much potential in this field! Very exciting…

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