Education and Mindfulness Practice: Exploring a Dialog Between Two Traditions

Abstract

There is evidence of the growth in implementations and research of mindfulness practice in education, and of the practice’s effects on various aspects of students’ and teachers’ lives. This conceptual paper, however, argues that the acceptance and understanding of mindfulness practice within education does not depend only on evidence of its effectiveness. It also requires a broader conceptualization of the associations between mindfulness practice and education. The paper hence calls for forging a dialogical encounter between “education” and “mindfulness” parallel to the ongoing dialog between Buddhism and science. It then develops one such dialogical encounter discussing education and mindfulness as two distinct traditions of practice that have a history of interpretations associated with their respective aims, conceptualizations, critiques, and ways of practice. Based on a common typology of educational aims, the paper explores how mindfulness practice features within three possible educational orientations: socialization, acculturation, and individuation. Though each orientation sets a different priority for education, assuming serious implementation, mindfulness practice can contribute to each. However, within each orientation the practice would be framed and implemented differently as the paper demonstrates by reviewing contemporary implementations. The paper thus provides a broader perspective on mindfulness and education and offers a historical context for debates concerning the implementation, justification, and/or critique of mindfulness in education. From the perspective proposed, mindfulness in education is viewed as less “special” than it seems. It is a possible pedagogical practice that serves educational aims that have long been part of the tradition of education.

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Ergas, O. Education and Mindfulness Practice: Exploring a Dialog Between Two Traditions. Mindfulness 10, 1489–1501 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-019-01130-w

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Keywords

  • Educational aims
  • Mindfulness
  • Curriculum
  • Science
  • Buddhism
  • Social-emotional learning