Mindfulness in Secondary Schools
Learning Lessons from the Adults, Secular and Buddhist
Keywords:Mindfulness, Buddhist, Secular, School, Adolescent, Education
This paper explores the adult mindfulness landscape, secular and Buddhist, in order to inform an approach to the teaching of mindfulness in secondary schools. The Introduction explains the background to the project and the significant overlap between secular and Buddhist practices. I explain what mindfulness is and highlight a number of important practical differences between the teaching of mindfulness in the adult world and in schools. ‘Balancing Calm and Insight’ looks at mindfulness through a lens infrequently explored in the therapeutic literature, and suggests that a slight shift in the centre of gravity towards Calm might be appropriate. ‘Defining Objectives’ considers how difficult it is to clearly articulate the objective of mindfulness in schools given a new context in which it functions as neither clinical application nor spiritual practice. A range of alternatives is considered. ‘Building a Scaffolding’ explains the importance of context in both Buddhist and secular practice. To succeed, mindfulness should be nested within a broader framework of understanding, or what Kabat-Zinn calls a ‘scaffolding’. I suggest that perhaps the best ‘scaffolding’ for mindfulness in schools is its sense of possibility. ‘Ethics and Community’ describes how ethics are more important in secular mindfulness than they at first appear. The shape ethics might take in a school context is considered, then an assessment of the role of the teacher and what equivalent there might be for what Buddhists call sangha, or Community.
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