Meditation in Schools: Introduction

There are thousands of pieces of research that will convince any teacher of the need to take time out to meditate and be mindful. Some of the latest research from America adds to the growing body of evidence.  A school  in Connecticut, required children to take part in yoga and meditation classes three times a week. Studies found that after each class, students had significantly reduced levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, in their bodies. In San Francisco,  schools that participated in Quiet Time, a Transcendental Meditation program, had twice as many students score proficient in English on the achievement tests than in similar schools where the program didn’t exist. Another school in the district specifically reduced suspensions by 45 percent during the program’s first year. Attendance rates climbed to 98 percent, grade point averages improved, and the school recorded the highest happiness levels in San Francisco on the annual California Healthy Kids Survey. Other studies have shown that mindfulness education programs improved students’ self-control, attentiveness and respect for other classmates, enhanced the school climate, and improved teachers’ moods.

To respond to this need, Mindfulness Matters have produced two high quality CDs for use in the classroom. Over the coming days, I will be reviewing the two CDs from Mindfulness Matters. I have some general comments that I have applied to both of those CDs so you can get a flavour of them both. 

derval_and_annThe narration on both of these CDs are Irish speakers, which is worth pointing out as sometimes American or British accents can cause the children to get very excited and off task.  The content of both the CDs are based on the SPHE strands of Myself and Self-identity. They will fit neatly into Educate Together schools and the objectives of the  Learn Together curriculum with the Moral and Spiritual Strands. Something a teacher may decide to do every day or as a part of the formal teaching of the ethics curriculum. All the tracks are guided step by step by Ann and Derval from Mindfulness Matters and if you have ever had the chance to sit in on a session with them, you will know how beneficial they are. They are both available from www.mindfulnessmatters.ie at €14.99 each. They also run special offers for schools who wish to buy the whole package or who want to invest in a set of CDs.

If you are really interested in learning how to incorporate these techniques into your own personal practices and in turn develop your professional practice with children, then you might read my review on Sui, a guided and non guided CD for meditation with adults. This review also appears in a separate blog post, which will be published over the coming days. Best of all, the good people of Mindfulness Matters have given us their complete package for a great competition!

Last Update: August 22, 2017  

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7 thoughts on “Meditation in Schools: Introduction”

  1. Hi Simon,

    do you see any issue with children (especially in an ET school) having to participate in (transcendental) meditation and yoga in contrast to just being taught about them?

    Both have strong links to and expressions in different religious context, particularly eastern mysticism….although there are of course established meditative practices in other major world religions.

    I’m not sure it’s possible to completely hollow them out so that they are somehow “neutral” with regards to their religious origins and world view. Approaches to meditation in the classroom have the potential conflict with the role of parents in faith formation outside the school and at a minimum predisposes children.to being more open to religious forms yoga and meditative practices.

    It’s a big topic, so I’m not expecting a full defence – primarily interested in if you think there’s an issue at all and how you work through it.

    I don’t know enough about minfulness matters to comment on it specifically – it may indeed be quite “neutral” and beneficial/useful, so the comment isn’t a specific criticism of it.

    Reply
    • Hi Ralph,

      It’s an interesting point but I think it really depends on how one looks at mindfulness. While I understand that things like yoga and meditation come from Eastern philosophies, does that mean that practicing these philosophies is indoctrinating in Eastern belief systems? I’m not sure if you practice meditation if you are practicing the religion either. I imagine we take many practices from different religions but don’t think about them as religious practices though trying to think of an example!

      Reply
  2. I love that you are writing about meditation in schools. I am back in my home country of New Zealand right now and happened to hear on our National Radio yesterday that there is some discussion about meditation being taught in schools here in New Zealand. It made me so happy that such things were even being discussed. I wish you all the best in such wonderful and important work that you are doing.

    Monique Rhodes
    http://onepeopleretreats.com

    Reply

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