There is a clear trend toward using meditation and mindfulness practices in schools, both for students and for professional development. The benefits include improved concentration, cognitive performance, and greater capacity for compassion, all of which are helpful during learning and teaching.
In "Evidence for Mindfulness: Impacts on the Wellbeing and Performance of School Staff," Emeritus Professor Katherine Weare of the Universities of Exeter and Southampton looks at peer-reviewed studies, showing substantial benefits, including
In the Holistic Me program at Coleman, “which focuses on prekindergarden through fifth-grade students,” administrators already noticed a difference in the first year. “Instead of the students fighting or lashing out,” says principal Carlillian Thompson in the video above, they started to use words to solve their problems.” None of the students in the program have received suspensions or detentions, and many have become leaders and high achievers.
Crooked Creek Elementary School in Indianapolis has a similar program:
It might sound strange, but in a fast-paced classroom, teachers at Crooked Creek say just having their students close their eyes and listen for a minute can help them improve their ability to focus. It’s part of the school’s efforts to incorporate the tenets of the growing academic field known as “educational neuroscience” into the classroom.
And at Visitacion Valley Middle School in San Francisco:
In 2007 a meditation programme called Quiet Time was brought in to meet some of these challenges. “When I first heard about it I thought it probably wasn’t going to work,” says O’Driscoll. “We get thrown a new thing every couple of years so I didn’t put too much faith in it.” But in April, just a month after meditation began, teachers noticed changes in behaviour. “Students seemed happy,” says O’Driscoll. “They worked harder, paid more attention, were easier to teach and the number of fights fell dramatically.”
These are some compelling stories! For educators thinking of implementing meditation or mindfulness practices in their schools, here are a few links to check out:
Edutopia: Resources & Downloads for Meditation in Schools
Mindful Teachers: Mindfulness Activities and Teaching Resources
Mindful Schools: Resources to Introduce Mindfulness to Schools