WHY ARE SCHOOLS SUDDENLY SO KEEN ON MINDFULNESS?
All this enthusiasm for meditation raises a few questions. slate.me/1TRoEAf
- •In recent years, mindfulness meditation has been co-opted into a profitable self-help practice.Businesses like it because mindful employees are more productive.
- •Now, many schools are beginning to teach the practice as well.
- •Students learn to observe their thoughts while focusing on the breath. They also practice cultivating gratitude, and being fully aware of all their senses.It’s a secularized version of a Buddhist meditation style called “vipassana”.
- •In recent years, many nonprofits and startups have brought mindfulness curriculums to the classroom.The two largest organizations say they’ve reached over 800,000 students around the world.
- •Mindfulness groups say the practice can alleviate rising levels of anxiety and depression, and studies seem to support their claims.One study of 400 low-income, most minority children found substantial improvements in just five weeks.
- •Child development experts agree.“Mindfulness is a way to stop the bleeding, and sometimes a Band-Aid does help. This is something teachers can do immediately, and it isn’t that difficult to implement. You get a lot of bang for your buck, and anyone who is against it isn’t thinking clearly,” says Denise Pope, author and senior lecturer at Stanford.
- •But skeptics fear that mindfulness is just a cover for traditional discipline.They point to schools with “calm-down chairs” and “Mindful Moment Rooms”.
- •Still, most people seem to see the benefits of the practice.Billy Bicket of Mindful Schools is quick to distinguish classroom mindfulness from “corporate” mindfulness.
- •“What we don’t want is for people to think of this as a way to shut kids up or get them to produce…What we want to do is give children tools to live more considerately.”