Why teach mindfulness in schools?

The following is an extract from any article by Katherine Wheare

Article by Katherine on ‘Why teach mindfulness in schools?’

Young people today have it tough. They live in a world of constant distraction, with the media, social networking, mobile phones and so on drawing them away from where they are, fragmenting their attention and making it hard for them to focus on schoolwork and relate effectively to the real people in their lives. Meanwhile teachers are under constant pressure with a huge workload and massive demands, and don’t know if they’re coming or going – quite a few are giving up in despair at the stress of it all.

However help is at hand. Students and teachers the world over in schools which are ahead of the game are starting to practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is not odd, religious or difficult to learn. It simply means learning to take a moment to actually be in the here and now, to stop the mind racing around by quietly focusing on something happening right now, such as the breath, feelings in the body, or on sounds. Simple as this sounds learning to take a moment to do this can be revolutionary.

Research across the world, including by the UK’s Oxford, Cambridge and Exeter University, is demonstrating how mindfulness rewires the brain to help create a greater sense of inner calm and focus.

Mindfulness is already taking the health services by storm, seen as literally a life saver and taught to patients with all kinds of conditions to improve their physical and mental health. Mindfulness in the business world is enhancing leadership and work related performance and satisfaction.

Now its education’s turn. Schools where people already practice mindfulness are finding that their students and staff perform and feel better, are less stressed, calmer, with better focus in class, greater belief in themselves and able to relate more effectively with others. Several educational programmes have been developed to help teachers to teach mindfulness to themselves and their students, with demonstrated positive benefits.

This experiential day will focus on exploring mindfulness in schools – what is is, how it works, and how it can be taught in schools and with what resources. It is run by Professor Katherine Weare, top expert on social and emotional learning (she was behind the primary and secondary SEAL programmes) and one of the UK’s leading figures in mindfulness in schools who is working closely with several mindfulness programmes. The workshop is for anyone interested, including those who work in schools (such as teachers, learning support, counsellors, and support staff) or with schools (such as governors, parents and therapists). The day will be a mixture of theory, experiential exercises and mindfulness practice, and practices from current mindfulness in schools programmes will be used throughout the day to ground us and give a taste of what is happening in classrooms. Programmes explored include the .b mindfulness in schools curriculum– a lively programme that is currently experiencing some success in the UK and elsewhere, written and developed by teachers and shown to be successful by evaluations by Exeter, Cambridge and Oxford Universities