Nor is this a treatise on the many ways mindful practices contribute to academic success. You can read about that here.
And click here for a well executed visual on the importance of mindful practices in the classroom.
I want to get down to the very basic foundation of mindfulness and why schools need mindful practices to flourish. It starts with a question:
What matters in education?
It’s a question I reflect on constantly and suggest every person spend some time thinking about whether you have children currently in school or not. What happens today in schools becomes the culture of society in the very near future. When I think critically about social culture today, it is painfully obvious that too many people did not learn, in their formative years, the social and emotional skills needed to navigate diversity and uphold democracy.
When we over focus on testing and standardize education, we often leave the individual needs of students out of the education process. What we now see as extracurricular (arts, music, physical education, mindfulness) are the very aspects of curriculum that make learning possible for many students because those activities meet the needs necessary for learning.
We know that children cannot learn well if they are hungry. We also know that students cannot engage well with information they do not care about. By taking away the aspects of curriculum that spark creativity and individual expression and movement and collaboration, we take away what students need to make progress in academics.
What matters in education? What matters in society?
Working backwards, what values do we collectively want to cultivate in society at large? Can we all agree that we want people to be more kind, compassionate and empathetic? Is it important to us all that citizens are skilled in problem solving and know how to weigh important decisions? Do we need more acceptance and understanding of difference? Do we care about inner and outer peace?
If you answered yes to any of those questions, you have made your own case for mindfulness is schools.
Mindful practices support a balanced inner life for students and teachers such that we can bring more balance, equity and consciousness to our relationships. Since every aspect of our lives are influenced by relationships; to self, others, society, it makes sense that an effective education would provide us many opportunities to cultivate strength in our ability to relate effectively.
Increased standardization of education has led some people to believe that better test scores and academic outcomes will arise from more time focused on testing. Critically thinking educators, researchers, legislators and parents know this is misguided.
The practices of mindfulness bring people back into focus in education. With people, comes back creativity, passion, spark and innovation.
Mindful practices, interwoven through the daily course of learning, support what matters most in education and society. We learn to move, breathe, think, and communicate with more grace, consciousness and intention.
If YOU think mindfulness in schools is a cause worth supporting, please consider contributing to our SoulCycle fundraiser today. All funds raised will help deliver our new mindfulness program for teens in schools. Learn more here.